Why now?

Rapid changes in transportation technology offer cities an opportunity to reorganizing our streets to grow healthy communities and vibrant public spaces


The Challenges of Today

America’s fastest-growing big city in 2016 and 2017, Seattle is attracting people and jobs at a rapid pace, and the growth is expected to continue. Without deliberate and thoughtful action, this influx of people could result in more carbon emissions, exacerbating climate change. It could also benefit the wealthy while making Seattle unaffordable for many and harming people of color, immigrants and other historically marginalized communities.

At the same time, technology is changing how we get around, from bike share to car share to ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft. Looking ahead, we may see driverless cars, drones that deliver goods, and new transportation modes that are still on the drawing board.

Seattle’s travel patterns are shifting in other ways, too. More people are taking transit, walking and biking. Fewer people are driving alone to get to work. And voters have supported substantial investments in public transit and safety on our streets.

This is what we call new mobility: the technology-enabled and human-powered transportation options that get us where we’re going on demand, when and where we need them.

Yet without an effort to align innovation with our shared values, we risk a future of congested streets and unfair, unsustainable, expensive travel options—here in the Pacific Northwest and across the globe.

Our great ambition is to advance new mobility so it puts people first. We are exploring new technologies and innovations that could lead to a more equitable city.

These challenges are not unique to Seattle. By leading the way and creating a city where new mobility works for everyone, we hope to establish a foundation for other cities and innovators to build on, with today’s technology and whatever the future brings.

New Mobility Trends

  • Information is the new infrastructure
  • People will share mobility
  • Clean energy will power transportation
  • Automakers are shifting to shared, electric, connected and automated

The Lessons of History

This isn’t the first time transportation has evolved at a breakneck pace. A century ago, cars began dominating city streets—and cities responded by reshaping themselves to accommodate the automobile.

We tore down transit systems, paved over public plazas, built massive parking garages, and even razed entire neighborhoods (usually communities of color) to build highways. The result: In the cities of today, it’s often unsafe and unpleasant to travel in anything but a car.

This time around, we want to do things differently. Instead of allowing the technology to shape the city, we’re mobilizing the technology to serve the people’s needs.

Upsides and Downsides

New mobility could greatly benefit cities... or it could create more problems than it solves. Here’s what’s at stake:

Upsides

  • More people, no added congestion
  • More options for getting around
  • A responsive transportation system
  • A more equitable transportation 
  • Safer, greener travel options

Downsides

  • More congestion and pollution
  • More inequity
  • Less support and fewer resources for public transit
  • More jobs lost than created
  • Systems we don't understand, can't manage and can't protect

To ensure that new mobility supports our shared vision for the future of Seattle, we’re going to need your help. Please share your thoughts and feedback by commenting on the plays and strategies.


Read the playbook