Currently in the conceptual stage for the city of Munich – where the escalating problem of CO2 emissions from congested roads is highly apparent, as in all major cities around the world – mo is an eco solution to urban mobility, combining bicycle-sharing, car-renting and public-transport ticketing all in one centralised system, plus an environmentally friendly reward system for sustainable transport choices.

“The success of a new mobility concept always depends on its acceptance, on whether the concept caters to people’s needs and offers them an appropriate solution,” says Matthis Hamann, partner at Lunar Europe.

From the beginning, a human-centred design process was crucial for the mo project. The Lunar team started by looking at the mobility of Germans in general and then focused on Munich in particular.

“We started by analysing existing mobility concepts and emerging trends, then we started to look into the motivations, needs and wants of individuals who are on the move all day, every day,” said Hamann.

Interviews and workshops were held with transport experts and representatives from the city to gain a balanced understanding of the relevant parameters for the implementation of the mo concept in a city like Munich.

The Lunar team ran online surveys, qualitative interviews with potential users, and used what they call “experience prototyping” techniques. Over 200 people were interviewed.

Experience prototyping was used to visualise the mo concept and to create typical personas and scenarios based on the information they had gathered during their research.

All products in the mo system were then also prototyped, including the vehicle stations, bike tags and vehicle graphics.

From their extensive research they found that people were generally happy to make do without a car of their own – if there were more attractive alternatives on offer. So the mo system had to provide a good choice of alternatives for any occasion or situation.

As such, the key element of the mo system is to offer eco-friendly transport alternatives to personal cars – including local public transport (trains and buses) and rental bikes and cars.

‘Cargobikes’ were designed for carrying children or bulky items like shopping, while long or hilly distances could be travelled on powered ‘ebikes’ (also a less sweaty option for office commuters!).

To access the system, users simply register for mo and are issued with a membership card that allows them to rent bikes and cars, and use public transportation, all with the one card.

The Lunar team claims that the mo system could be implemented at low cost via a smartphone app, that would offer a location-based service. This app would encourage spontaneous use of the mo system, even when a person is already on the move.

So, for example, if a user is out shopping and purchased more than they had initially planned, they could use their smartphone app to locate the closest cargobike for rent and book it.

Or if a user arrives at a destination on an ebike, then the weather turns, they are able to leave the bike at the docking station and instead return home with their mo card via public transport.

The mo user is, therefore, able to make their choice from the range of transport alternatives, depending on their situation or needs. And the smartphone app also allows users to book vehicles and check public transport timetables.

In addition to bike rental options, users can use their own bikes in the mo system, which could be a particularly enticing prospect for many Germans (and urbanites in general), as statistics show that more than 80 per cent of people own a bike, yet only use it 10 per cent of the time for transport.

By fitting private bikes with mo tags, users are able to benefit from the mo rewards system. When users make more sustainable transport choices, such as riding a bike instead of driving a car, the device records the distances travelled, which are added up for the user to redeem in points – or ‘mo miles’.

When a certain number of mo miles have been travelled, the mo mile credits can, for example, be cashed in to fund trips to a defined destination with a mo car or on public transport.

The better the mo miles balance is looking, the less the user needs to pay. This encourages environmentally aware behaviour and gives the mo user incentive to improve on any unsustainable mobility patterns. Mo mile points can also be tracked on the smartphone app.

“Things have to change – and they will. Whether people are going to work, going shopping or exercising, 80 per cent of all distances travelled in Germany are shorter than 20 kilometres,” says Dirk Hessenbruch, from the mo design team.

And he is optimistic about the future. “At the same time, more than 50 per cent of people use their car – with all the consequences that creates for our roads and air quality. mo gives concrete and feasible alternatives that are based on people’s needs, and provides mobility for the city of tomorrow.”

Andreas Schuster of Green City adds: “If our political and economic decision-makers could break away from the dogma of a car-friendly city, Munich would be able to create a networked solution for its citizens. It’s not a question of feasibility, it’s a question of will.” 

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