Urban car usage will be overtaken by 'greener transportation' within a decade, research claims

Amanda Hall | Robert Harding World Imagery | Getty Images

Sustainable transport like cycling will overtake car usage in the world's biggest cities by 2030, according to new research.

In a report published Monday, research firm Kantar claimed private car journeys in global hubs would decrease by 10% over the next decade, as 36.7 million city-dwellers change the way they travel.

Researchers surveyed more than 20,000 people living in 31 cities around the world about their current travel experiences and modes of transport they wanted to use in the future.

Manchester in the U.K. would undergo the biggest transformation within the coming 10 years, according to Kantar's forecast, with Moscow and Sao Paulo expected to see the next biggest shifts in transport usage.

The rise of the sharing economy, uptake of autonomous vehicles and an ageing global population would reduce the need for car ownership, Kantar's report said, with car usage expected to be replaced with public transport, cycling and walking.

By 2030, the report's authors predicted, 49% of all trips undertaken within cities would be completed via those "greener" methods, while car trips would account for 46% of all urban journeys — down from 51% in 2020.

Journeys made by taxi and ride-hailing apps like Uber would make up the remaining 5%, Kantar said.

The report also noted that cycling was on track to become the fastest-growing method of transport, with a predicted journey increase of 18% between 2020 and 2030.

'Political upside'

Some cities were more prepared than others for the shift, Kantar said in its report. The most tech-ready cities, based on factors such as digital payment infrastructure, openness to autonomous vehicles and GDP (gross domestic product), were Amsterdam, London, and Los Angeles, according to the analysis.

Researchers also found that in some of the most well-prepared hubs, such as Berlin, Amsterdam and New York, there was a clear gap between the cities' readiness for change and trust in governments to deliver more sustainable transport infrastructure.

"Cities around the world need to plan strategically for the evolving mobility needs of their population," Rolf Kullen, mobility director at Kantar, said in a press release on Monday. "For change to happen, it must be led by both the cities and the people — citizens will not act alone."

"Municipalities must mind the gap by balancing infrastructure investment with robust urban mobility policies and awareness initiatives to gain the trust and backing of their citizens," he added. "Our research shows there could be significant political upside for politicians who get urban transport right."

Many cities around the world, such as Manchester, Singapore and London, have begun trialing self-driving buses with a view to overhaul public transport, while some cities in China have already made their bus fleets entirely electric.