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Leeds launches multimillion-pound community project to encourage new mobility

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Image Credit: Royal College of Arts

A £7.8 million project has been announced for Leeds which will encourage the community to design low-carbon mobility alternatives to car ownership.

The Inspiring Futures for Zero Carbon Mobility (INFUZE) study, led by the Institute for Transport Studies (ITS) in partnership with The Royal College of Art and Lancaster University, will take place over the next five years and involve up to 400 households.

Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the INFUZE grant makes for an international first in its mission to deliver low carbon travel options at scale.

“We want INFUZE to be the start of a national centre of excellence to drive change forward,” Greg Marsden, Professor of Transport Governance at ITS and director of INFUZE told Zag Daily.

“Changing how people access mobility means addressing issues like personal safety, how to travel with young children? What if I have a pet? How do I move garden waste?

“It is essential that communities are involved in the design from the start because ultimately we are looking to design a system which works better for them as well as for our well-being and climate.”

The plan – zoomed in

More than 20 partners are involved in the project including Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Calderdale Council, Beryl and Enterprise Car Club.

The first year of the plan will see researchers speak with communities who are already moving away from individual car ownership to find out what’s driving this.

Then, different models will be trialled such as subsidising car club vehicles or buying people out of their car financing. After this the project will move into full trial areas and the final year will focus research on how INFUZE could be adopted across the UK.

The Royal College of Art’s Intelligent Mobility Design Centre – a research partner of the project – experiments with prototypes and evaluates new mobility transitions by synthesising people-centred design and research methods.

“We’re really delighted to be a partner on the INFUZE study because it brings together such a great group of leading researchers, mobility providers and public organisations so that we can understand and co-design new urban mobility systems with citizens in a collaborative and iterative way,” Innovation Fellow at the Royal College of Art and Co-investigator on the INFUZE project, Dan Phillips, said.

“Transport remains one of the most polluting and complex human systems and we hope that this project will provide the foundations for a new participatory approach to mobility science that helps communities across the UK and beyond imagine and develop transport solutions that are not just sustainable but locally meaningful, inclusive and delightful too.”

Transportation accounts for 23% of carbon emissions in the UK, making it the largest contributor in the country. Additionally, £57 billion is spent annually on owning, maintaining and insuring cars, yet cars are used for just 4% of the day and run 960 billion empty-seat miles per year.

Shared transport operator Beryl which recently received the prestigious King’s Award for Enterprise business accolade – is one partner of the project that already has an established presence in Leeds.

“We design our schemes in close collaboration with towns and cities and this bespoke approach enables them to become part of a much wider effort to decarbonise urban transport schemes,” Beryl CEO Phil Ellis said.

“INFUZE is a really exciting project and one in which we feel that bike share could play a crucial role. Rider feedback has shown us the importance of our vehicles for making first and last mile journeys, often acting as a connector for other forms of shared transport. It will be really interesting to see how we can all work together as part of one co-ordinated project.”

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