Developing disruptive mobility scenarios for rural areas. Participatory mobility scenario building in a Belgian village for the year 2050

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Historically, quantitative forecasting methods have been used in transport planning. As forecasts can be unreliable to plan for the medium- and long-term, scenario building has recently been increasingly used. However, scenario building methods often fail to take disruptions and wild cards into account, i.e., low probability but high impact events. When unaccounted for, wild card events, like the COVID-19 pandemic, lower the efficacy of scenario building in policy making, as these events may completely disturb the developed scenarios of the future.

In this paper, we develop and apply a creative and participatory methodology to develop visions and disrupted scenarios for rural mobility. Our research was carried out in the Belgian village of Oetingen, where inhabitants developed more resilient views of the future by creating disrupted mobility scenarios and a preferred mobility vision for their village for the year 2050 in a participatory scenario building exercise. Wild cards related to mobility were collected from mobility experts and inhabitants in three workshops. Inhabitants were engaged to define their mobility vision on a postcard that was distributed to all houses in the village as well as on a project website. Respondents were invited for a follow-up interview in which their preferred mobility vision was subjected to the wild cards, and participants described how these wild cards would change their preferred vision. As children tend to have more creative ideas, they were engaged via workshops at school.

This process resulted in mobility scenarios for the village for the year 2050 based on the different wild cards, as well as an overall desired vision. We found that the use of wild cards did not significantly change the scenarios when compared to the vision, although it did make the interviewees step outside of their comfort zones. We also found that the citizens did not have more original and less path-dependent ideas in developing wild cards when compared to experts. Lastly, we found that children have many outside-of-the-box suggestions when it comes to the future. Although some of their ideas can be judged as impractical by today’s standards, many ideas had an indirect implication for mobility in the village and gave insights into children’s priorities, as potential future residents of the village.
Original languageEnglish
Article number33
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Transport Research Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the B-Phot Brussels Photonics research lab.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


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