My future commute: A week in the life
In our not too distant future, technological and ecological developments combined with a propelled switch to home working have many of us recoiling at the idea of back and forth commuting. This is enabling a new vision of urban living to emerge.
The morning commute of past decades involved a time-intensive slog through congested urban routes on a variety of overcrowded public transportation or road networks. Thankfully, the evolution of technology, policy, and changing attitudes towards how we move has made the morning commute a seamless, time-saving, stress-free experience. With fewer vehicles on roads, cleaner modes of transport, less frequent needs to travel, and smarter applications of technology, transport utopia is one step closer to reality.
MONDAY: A car-free, carefree reality
The alarm went off 20 minutes earlier this morning. Mondays are car free in this quadrant of the city and miles of traffic lanes are transformed into walking pedestrian and cyclist friendly avenues. The alarm also picks up my biometric data and accounts for the fact I went to bed early for a change, so I have time for a quiet coffee before the business of the day starts.
The children cycle to school on Mondays, I go with them and stop off at the local market on the way back. It is also local farmers market day on the old highway underneath the elevated hyperloop, where the AVs (autonomous vehicles) usually run all other days of the week. I check back the smart fridge contents to recall what we need. Anything heavier than I can carry on my bike will be delivered to the house by the coordinated market AV delivery system. Mondays, I always work from home – I like Mondays.
TUESDAY: Crosstown traffic… a thing of the past
Today is a busy travel day, including one ‘long’ trip to a neighbouring city. Luckily the cities are hyperloop connected so I take a pre-booked AV to the hyperloop terminal and have half an hour of uninterrupted work in an allocated seat before the meeting. Heading back a few hours later I am thankful for bumping into a friend and spend half an hour chatting; one thing I do miss from the old days of the every-day mass commute. Leaving the hyperloop station and crossing the square to the bus stop my phone alerts me to the fact I am near my favourite coffee shop with a half price offer. Coffee in hand, I check in at a Wi-Fi enabled bus stop, which updates the driverless bus that there are five people waiting to be picked up. Seamless payment via the smart device in my bag means minimal delays for payments.
After a few hours in the office I book a car via a car-share site and drive over to the next meeting, parking in a nearby company shared parking spot. The car will charge via part of a wider system that intelligently manages the periodic demand of energy consumption from the smart city’s power grid, and be collected by whomever from the company books it next. I take the folding bike from the boot to get to the central town site (drivers looking for parking spaces still make up 30 percent of all urban traffic, and I don’t want to add to that). The bike’s Wi-Fi enabled screen monitors not only traffic but also my heart rate and advises me of the best route and to slow down as I have plenty of time. I’m happy to make it in plenty of time to the meeting and to have minimised at least some Co2 emissions by cycling some of the way there!
WEDNESDAY: La Ville Du Quart D’Heure (The quarter hour city)
Today is another busy day, but no intercity travel today; all the day’s tasks are within a short walk or cycle from home. 10 years ago, the 15-minute city urban planning principle was adopted through all cities in the country and managed by each municipality. It has made a dramatic change not only to air quality but to the vibrancy and economy of the local community. Where local business, grocery shops were being replaced by huge out of city mega malls, we have seen a rejuvenation of the high street, with many friends having stopped intercity commuting by locating their business here in the city where they live.
After a morning of errands there is news on my smart device of an urgent issue that needs solving on a job site in the neighbouring city. Rather than spending time and carbon to travel there I book a room in the co-working hub in the next street and call on two engineers to meet me there (they cycle over), we video link into the project site to see the problem in real time, and a thermal scan is carried out on the apparent fault. We brainstorm solutions for the rest of the afternoon and issue instructions for rectification. I decide to leave the bike and walk back through the park, sending back my smart screen to view morning purchases from the high street via the co-working delivery hub electric vehicle to the delivery locker outside of my house. It will be back before I arrive.
THURSDAY: Onwards and upwards
This morning my husband heads to the local Vertiport (there are two private ports located 15 minutes away) for a short business trip to Australia. He has already submitted travel documents and shared biometric health data which will all be validated within the AV car that takes him to the launch area. He will be back the next day.
I enjoy the fact that I don’t have to do any international travel this week – while the development of autonomous electric jets has come a long way, I still feel it’s unnecessary to do it often when we can communicate so easily online (and I still don’t enjoy the vertical launch experience!) Many simply use the electric taxi drone service to avoid traffic.
I, on the other hand, choose to jump into a rideshare with a co-worker to the office, enjoying the journey time to catch up on the latest work news. Although our virtual collaboration platforms are efficient, nothing replaces some face-to-face time with colleagues.
The office is now less a space packed with dense rows of individual desks and more focussed on a variety of collaborative workspaces for different sized teams. This new de-densified office environment is enabled by the fact there is no need to cater for every employee to sit at a desk for 9 hours of every day. The office has become more of a collaboration hub.
FRIDAY: A walk in the park
I ditch the plan to take an AV to the other side of town to meet a friend. The AV is great when it is raining, for short trips in compact cities like ours… but the sun is out today so I will walk.
I recall the cluttered pavements of 10 years ago and how dangerous it felt crossing roads when AV systems were relatively new. But, now that the systems run very smoothly there has recently been far more focus on walking as an actual mode of transport. The pavements reflect this with planting and programmes for greening the city to absorb more Co2, and community gardens fill some of the old lanes that used to be highway, a breath of fresh air.