Resilience of Urban Mobility in the Face of Fossil Fuel Dependency: An Empirical Study of Rio de Janeiro

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Dokumentart: Dissertation
Date: 2017-04-05
Language: English
Faculty: 7 Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Department: Geographie, Geoökologie, Geowissenschaft
Advisor: Hochschild, Volker (Prof. Dr.)
Day of Oral Examination: 2017-04-04
DDC Classifikation: 300 - Social sciences, sociology and anthropology
333.7 - Natural resources and energy
Keywords: Verkehrsgeografie
Other Keywords:
Urban Mobility
Human Security
License: Publishing license including print on demand
Order a printed copy: Print-on-Demand
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Long-term scenarios for mobility within cities usually neglect the challenge of energy supply and the ways in which the implied risks can affect urban mobility services. High levels of private transport and fossil fuel dependency tend to prevail in urban agglomerations of modern cities in many parts of the world. The concept of resilient mobility supports a new perspective of transportation solutions, based not only on questions, like how less energy can be consumed or how less CO2 can be emitted, but how vulnerable urban mobility is, in the light of fossil fuel dependency, in case there is a sharp increase of the oil price or even a supply disruption. There are factors within the social and geographical scope, which help understand mobility patterns and possible impacts in case there is a fossil fuel supply threat. The analysis of these additional factors can lead to new policy and planning approaches. This thesis integrates the resilience concept into the urban mobility research field, through a diversified literature review, generating a conceptual framework on the resilience of urban mobility. Furthermore, quantitative and qualitative methods are developed, based on a proposed framework concerning resilience of urban mobility and applied to the city of Rio de Janeiro. The developed and applied methodologies involves the evaluation of the resilience of urban mobility based on a process divided in three stages, the capacity to persist, ability to adapt and the potential to transform the city, in order to be resilient, when confronted with a fossil fuel threat. The quantitative method is based on a social-centered approach, which is evaluated whether the working population of the city of Rio de Janeiro possesses sufficient conditions to resist to fossil fuel threats, based on the urban and social characteristics of the city. This methodology confronts mobility options, geographical constraints and financial conditions of inhabitants. The qualitative method consists in gathering information regarding the attitude of inhabitants of the city, regarding the current mobility patterns and possible reactions in the face of fossil fuel threats. Furthermore, the qualitative approach consisted, also, in evaluating policies and projects oriented to electric-based transportation solutions and the impact of social movements in improving urban mobility. Results of this research highlighted the most and less resilient areas of the city of Rio de Janeiro. The areas with lower levels of resilience of urban mobility, are located in the north and west part of the city. The areas with higher levels of resilience are located in the east and south part of the city, including the Central Business District and its surrounding area. In order of Rio de Janeiro’s social and spatial differences, the results showed that there are different combinations of problems for each part of the city, which generate vulnerable conditions for urban mobility being dependent on fossil fuels. It was observed that there is a high concentration of job positions in the district of Centro (the main distric of the Central Business District), along with higher wage levels in the districts geographically close to this area. In addition to this, there is an electricity-based transportation system, which has a limited geographical reach and a limited carrying capacity, leading to an intensive use of oil-based public and private transportation. Beyond these problems, it was identified that there is an attitude issue regarding public transportation. In other words, it is likely, that users of public transportation tend to see the public transportation system as an uncomfortable obligation, because of the insecurity, lack of money to use private transportation, dependency on conventional bus and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems (oil-based), high costs involved in travelling, long distance to work, etc. It has been observed in this research that even in areas of the city that already have an acceptable level of accessibility to train or metro systems, a significant part of the respondents (sample of the qualitative method) are willing to change their modal choice, as they are faced with extreme fossil fuel threats, even if it affects personal expenses. The city is divided between those who can afford living close to work, those who can afford private transportation and those who cannot afford either of these two options. This third group is, in significant numbers, located in areas of the city that have had long been receiving less investments in the private and public sectors, leading to a complex mixture of urban problems, from low quality of transportation services, education, medical care, security, basic sanitation, etc. The challenge of the city of Rio de Janeiro goes beyond improving transportation infrastructure to reach the same places because the capacity of the system is limited. It also needs to improve basic infrastructure and urban services in vulnerable areas, attracting the private sector to these areas, consequently reducing travel distances to work, transportation costs and improving urban mobility.

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