Transport is a key enabler for economic and social activities. The way we travel to work, school, hospital or access leisure activities and the way we transport goods critically determines not just our carbon footprint, but also the safety on our roads, the quality of our air and life in general in our cities. Transport accounts for 23 per cent of the global energy related CO2 emissions and is the second largest and fastest growing sector.

Re-thinking mobility and directing the focus on a system that is more geared towards people and not cars is a vital step in the overall transition of the sector. Re-shaping urban form to keep distances short and provide key urban amenities in close proximity; re-defining mobility as a service with public transport as a vital backbone, a safe and pleasant environment for walking and cycling, and innovative shared services that are well integrated; and re-inventing vehicles and powertrains to provide energy and resource efficient vehicles that are fit for purpose are vital steps on the path towards sustainable mobility.

Inner-city cycling
Regarding pollution, land use and accident risks, there is considerable design freedom in traffic. Instead of taking the car, the infrastructure in cities – like here in Copenhagen – can also be designed to be attractive for cyclists. But also routes driven less by car, frugal and efficient means of transport, climate and environmentally friendly fuels, as well as intelligent public transport can be a bonus.
Mobility and Urban Form

The design and structure of human settlements has a significant impact on the accessibility of basic services such as education and health as well as economic opportunities and social activities. Hence, a key focus for the Wuppertal Institute is on the integration of urban planning and mobility planning, which is reflected in the design of urban living labs and the policy recommendations of the institute.
Compact urban form and mixed-use are important factors to keep trips short, foster walkability, cycling and create critical mass for an efficient public transport system and urban logistics. Public participation and a human-centred planning approach are vital factors in strategies for mobility transitions, which facilitate mobility for all and contribute to sustainable development.

Priority for Low-carbon Modes

To deviate from a path towards two billion cars on our roads and to provide equitable access for all, there needs to be a clear priority for non-motorised and public transport in urban mobility planning. Sharing systems can make a great contribution to the accessibility of mobility services, provided that they are well integrated into the system and complementary to public transport, walking and cycling.

Heavy vehicles contribute disproportionately to urban air pollution and road fatalities. Improving the efficiency of urban logistics, in particular for the last mile distribution can make a significant contribution to improved air quality and safety in urban areas and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Right-sizing and electrification

To fully decarbonise the transport sector a shift to alternative fuels and energy carriers is essential. However, the energy and resources intensity depends on the choices that are made regarding the size, weight and power of the vehicles. Designing vehicles that are fit-for-purpose and aim for a maximum of utilisation, while minimising energy and resource consumption is a vital objective for the work of the Wuppertal Institute. This includes decarbonisation scenarios for the light-duty vehicle fleet, concepts for shared fleets, public transport and urban logistics.


Dr. Oliver Lah

Tel.: +49 30 2887458-16

Oliver Lah

There are many great examples for sustainable mobility solutions around the world from which others can learn from, such as the concept of car-free superblocks from Barcelona, the Bus Rapid Transit System in Curitiba that started a public transport revolution or Road User Charging, which started in Singapore.

Oliver Lah
Head of Research Unit Mobility and International Cooperation


You find more projects and activities of the Wuppertal Institute in the field of transport/mobility here:


Here you find up-to-date information on research findings and activities in the field of transport systems / mobility.


The focus of research projects on transport systems lies on alternative technologies as well as on the shift towards a low-emission and sustainable mobility. In the following you find selected sample projects. A complete list is available here.

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