It is now almost three decades since the concept of ‘sustainable mobility’ first appeared in the 1992 EU Green Paper on the Impact of Transport on the Environment
. This paper reviews the literature and reflects on how societies’ understanding and interpretation of the concept of sustainable mobility has evolved. We track this evolution over six dimensions: research and policy, transport impacts and categories, scientific disciplines, methodological approach, and research questions. From this review we assert that the mainstream understanding and interpretation of sustainable mobility can be grouped into four generations of studies. The first generation of studies (1992–1993) were techno-centric and focused on how to limit transport
’s negative environmental impacts by improving then-existing technology. The second, third and fourth generations of studies (1993–2000, 2000–2010 and 2010–2018 respectively) increasingly acknowledge the limitations of preceding efforts to achieve sustainable mobility, and open for a more diverse set of alternatives. These studies have gradually become more interdisciplinary in nature—reflecting the inter-relatedness of mobility with all other aspects of society. We conclude that despite the ensuing elevation of mobility into the holistic picture society, we still have not achieved a sustainable mobility system. Furthermore, what is much needed now, more than ever, is a bold set of new narratives.
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