Unlocking the full potential of mobility hubs

Mobility hubs can be designed to offer a diverse mix of functions and a variety of public spaces, similar to how train stations have been redeveloped into multifunctional spaces with shops, meeting areas, offices, and housing. Embracing this broader perspective, we see hubs as vital city interventions whose impact reaches beyond just mobility. They can serve as tools for city planning, such as promoting shared mobility, clustering our vehicles, and offering spaces to greenify our urban environments. Moreover, mobility hubs provide opportunities for real estate development; establishing new central venues for commercial, social, and residential spaces that can become valuable community hubs at neighbourhood level. But how can we fully unlock and optimize their potential, moving beyond mere parking for shared vehicles, and how should we design these broader hubs?

Defining mobility hubs

Before delving into general principles, it's essential to understand what a mobility hub is. We define mobility hubs as key nodes in a transportation network where the transition between various modes of transportation can occur, with at least one mode being collective (shared and/or public). Our research on hubs started with the report 'Hubs in existing neighbourhoods', which highlighted the potential of hubs in saving urban space, especially when integrated with "superblock" strategies that prioritize pedestrian-friendly zones with green spaces, transforming roadways.

Key principles for implementing mobility hubs

A mobility hub can be a catalyst for significant urban transformations, offering a multitude of benefits for our cities. However, this ambition is more complex than only implementing shared mobility. It requires a comprehensive planning approach. In collaboration with the municipality of Amsterdam, we have developed a Spatial Strategy for Mobility Hubs, which outlines seven key principles to guide this transition.

1. Plan Hubs as Networks

The true potential of mobility hubs can be unlocked when they are seen as part of a cohesive network, rather than isolated entities. In Amsterdam, we refer to this as the "gebiedsdekkend netwerk" or "area-covering network." This approach ensures that every household within Amsterdam falls within a maximum 5 or 10 minute walking distance of a mobility hub, making them accessible citywide.

2. Define Multiple Hub Goals

Mobility hubs should be guided by multiple objectives. Promoting sustainable mobility with shared transportation as a key component is one goal, but they can also contribute to social cohesion and accessibility for vulnerable groups. Spatially, hubs should free up more space than they occupy.

3. Plan Area-Oriented Strategies

To integrate hub networks effectively with their surroundings, they must be adaptable to the unique characteristics of different urban neighbourhoods. The planning of hub networks in the city center should differ from those in the suburbs to suit varying built environments and resident behaviours.

4. Use Existing Infrastructure

Urban areas often have a surplus of parking facilities. Mobility hubs can encourage sharing of parking spaces and vehicles by making better use of the existing parking infrastructure. This transformation can be enhanced by the collaboration between public and private stakeholders; especially with private parking garage owners.

5. Link to (New) Parking Policies

Mobility hubs should be integrated into existing and new parking policies to address parking management challenges. Introducing mobility hubs and shared vehicles together with paid parking, for instance, can stimulate people to switch from private to shared vehicles. The introduction of hubs should also diminish the parking norms of an area.

6. Link to (New) Urban Transformations

Mobility hubs can alleviate parking pressures in existing urban developments, which is particularly helpful in space-constrained areas like Amsterdam. In addition, hubs can stimulate new urban development in locations not previously considered, freeing up space for new housing, workspaces, and amenities.

7. Move Across Scales

To address all these principles effectively, the last but perhaps most crucial principle of hub design is to plan across different scales. Mobility hubs should cater to citywide, district, neighbourhood, and street-specific needs, enabling a range of urban functions, and achieving multiple goals.

Looking ahead

As we push the boundaries of mobility transition, in the short and long term we can imagine many futures in which hubs can continue to play a central role in urban dynamics. Starting with simple parking spaces for shared vehicles, they can be upgraded to collective car parking facilities. Eventually into logistics hubs, or parking areas for bikes, scooters and other new small vehicles of our future urban landscapes.


Want to know more?

At its core, hub design should follow the local context in order to maximize its potential and to successfully integrate with its urban environment. We also present four examples of hub designs tailored to their specific contexts, which you can download below.