urban mobility

Urban mobility

Towards sustainable urban transportation

Every day, there are millions of people traveling around cities. The excessive use of private cars in urban centers has a negative effect not only on the environment but also on people’s health and their quality of life. 


What is urban mobility?

Urban mobility is the total number of trips taken each day in urban environments, by both people and goods, in order to have access to the services, facilities, and opportunities (work- or leisure-related) offered by a city.

The quality of urban mobility models is measured by the ease with which people can move between destinations in cities using the transportation system and the available services.

The Spanish Government's 2021–2023 Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (initials in Spanish, PNIEC) sets a target of reducing the use of cars for individual trips by 35% and promoting sustainable solutions, such as electrification and the use of renewable hydrogen and renewable fuels. The success of this plan could mean a reduction in greenhouse gases of approximately 23% in 2023 as compared to 1990 but, for it to succeed, it is absolutely necessary to improve the efficiency of the entire urban transportation system.

Types of urban mobility and ways of moving around urban environments

There are different ways to move around urban environments:



This is the most universal way to get around but also the most vulnerable. In the last decade, walking has been crowded out as public spaces for pedestrians have been lost to infrastructure and motorized traffic. However, the positive effects of this physical activity, such as promoting a healthy lifestyle and improving air quality, have encouraged new models for cities like the “15-minute city”, in which the inhabitants are only a quarter of an hour away on foot from all essential services. 



Bicycles are an efficient mode of transportation, as they do not require any kind of fuel and may be purchased at a very reasonable price. They are also sustainable as, when they travel around the city, they do not emit greenhouse gases and they relieve traffic congestion. Lastly, the physical activity involved in their use improves the riders’ health and reduces stress levels.

mass transit

Mass transit

If we compare it with the use of private cars, public transportation is more efficient, reduces polluting emissions, occupies less space, and is more economical for users. Its possibilities for development depend on the characteristics of the city but almost all of them tend to have three modes of transportation.

  • Firstly, buses, an affordable and safe method for traveling short distances. 
  • Then, the subway, which moves a large number of travelers and does not suffer from the ill effects of traffic jams or extreme weather events. 
  • In addition, many cities have a good railroad network, which is indispensable for connecting the outskirts with centers of interest. 
private vehicle on a road

Private vehicle

Cars play a vital role in urban mobility so it is not a question of penalizing their use but of encouraging more environmentally committed management of them. To do this, efficient infrastructures need to be implemented, such as parking lots on the outskirts of the city connected with intermodal mass transit stations, and sustainable solutions, such as electrification, hydrogen, and renewable fuels, including biofuels and synthetic fuels. 

car-sharing vehicle

Shared vehicle

Today, there are two ways of sharing vehicles.

  • Carpooling consists of sharing a car for medium and long journeys in order to maximize the number of seats occupied, reduce the number of cars on the road, reduce emissions, and reduce traffic congestion. In this case, a very obvious example is when various colleagues share a car to go to work because they live near each other. 
  • Car-sharing: a new method of transportation in which a car is shared, but not one’s own. In other words, it is based on renting a car for a short time. One example is WiBLE, the hybrid plug-in vehicle service for traveling around Madrid and near Repsol, which will encourage sustainable mobility in the city and the surrounding area. 

Sustainable urban mobility

Transportation consumes a third of all the final energy used in the European Union. Most of this energy is generated from fossil fuels, which means that vehicles are responsible for a large proportion of greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, when planning a more sustainable environment and reducing the impact of the carbon footprint, action on the issue of mobility has become a priority objective: the European Union wants this sector to reduce its emissions by 90% by 2050, to the levels found in 1990. 

In line with this target, various European cities have implemented what is known as a “sustainable urban mobility plan”. This plan is a sustainable urban transportation guide that organizes mobility around three axes: 

The future of urban mobility

The gradual decarbonization of vehicles, the addition of modes of transportation that use renewable energies, and lifestyle changes will alter our way of understanding mobility and of designing sustainable cities

Among the sustainable urban transportation measures that are already being implemented are electric urban mobility, hybridization, and the use of renewable fuels, which can already be found in the major European cities. Repsol will therefore commission the first biofuels production plant in Spain in the first quarter of 2023. The fuels are to be manufactured from waste and will reduce net CO2 emissions by up to 90%.

The arrival of 5G will also be a determining factor in the future of mobility and road safety. The Internet of Things will encourage smart urban mobility, in other words, vehicles that, thanks to technology, will communicate with the infrastructure and their surroundings in order to provide drivers with information in real-time. The development of this technology will also permit the implementation of self-driving cars, which, thanks to artificial intelligence, will lower the accident rate and increase efficiency. 

As we are aware of the importance of digitalization in the decarbonization of mobility, the Repsol Technology Lab is working on improving the autonomy of electric batteries. In addition, the business centers are also driving the installation of ultra-fast charging points for electric cars. 

If the way in which we move around changes, the city will also change, into what are known as smart cities. Smart cities are characterized by expanding the range of transportation, with solutions like car-sharing; keeping some optimum infrastructure that allows for the possibility of going from one place to another on foot or by bicycle; and minimizing travel times with the use of big data. The sustainable cities of the future place the public at the center of their policies, so they are also committed to creating low-emission zones (LEZ), in other words, areas in which access to the most polluting vehicles is restricted. Specifically, in 2023, cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants will have to have LEZs.