It’s great when journalists dig down deeper into the core, fundamental meaning of the issues.
Alex Marshall of GOVERNING does a commendable job of digging deeper down into the word “mobility.” It is an imperfect word, but it actually gets about as close as possible to defining the way people move around.
Despite not giving an explanation as to why he finds the word mobility “pretentious,” the article lands on some pretty insightful conclusions, including this one, which begs to become a tagline for one of the gazillion new mobility startups:
Sometimes the slower you move, the farther you get.
He points out the communities with all the amenities located in a dense space, like his in Brooklyn, N.Y., have a good thing going, and that avoiding most instances of needing to get in a car (except when you just need that refreshing Sunday drive) creates a much better, happier standard of living.
Then he quotes me:
Paul Mackie … points out that we all have different spheres of mobility – including our neighborhood, our city, our region and the world beyond – and they vary in quality. “In your Brooklyn example, you might have great access to everything by foot in your walkable neighborhood, but your ability to access your doctor on the Upper West Side is limited because driving in the city is difficult and the subways are delayed,” he wrote in an email.
Although I find the term “mobility” pretentious, it may have come into favor because it takes in other options besides personal driving for getting around. And having more ways to travel improves your mobility, by my scorecard. “The mobility mix is getting really interesting now with Uber, Lyft, e-bikes, e-scooters, bikeshare, dockless bikeshare, hover boards, autonomous cars, autonomous shuttles, work shuttles,” Mackie wrote, and people are waking up to that. “They’re not simply sleepwalking into the cars in their driveways in the morning.”
Whatever one’s thoughts are about the term mobility, it’s heartening to know that more journalists are starting to get the memo that transportation and mobility aren’t always about driving and flying.
See our recent article on what mobility means.