Mobility glossar

Hamburg Climate Plan 

coming soon…

Modal Split

The modal split describes the percentage shares of rides with different modes of transportation, measured in km per person (and km per ton in the case of freight transportation). Furthermore, it can be measured by the number of rides per means of transportation. The results each need to be evaluated differently. Using the modal split it is possible to describe or visualize the composition of traffic expenditure. By that, it is possible to demonstrate changes in mobility behavior through time and within a particular space.

Free Floating

If you often use carsharing or any bike-sharing service, you surely have encountered yourself with the term ‘free-floating’. It mainly means that vehicles are placed not at a fixed station but can be left and lent everywhere in the city. On the one hand, this offers better flexibility, on the other hand, it means that more public space, like the sidewalk, is used to station the vehicles. It is questionable if free-floating can help to reduce traffic. Unlike stationary sharing concepts, it requires a higher number of vehicles in order to provide good accessibility for all. 


Multimodality describes the usage of different means of transport within specific period. According to some definitions of multimodal behavior, it is already given using two or more means of transport. Intermodality as an extension to that definition describes the usage of different means of transportation within one route. This means as an example biking and then using the train on the way to university. The intermodal choice of means of transport is more differentiated and flexible.

Mobility culture

What shapes our mobility? Which factors does it depend on? Important aspects are the mentality and the behavior of traffic participants. The term ‘mobility culture’ tries to unite both hard and soft factors of this area. Meaning: How is the consistency of a street? How many railroads are there? But also: How high are the incentives to use bicycles? How good is the quality of stay? These things amount to differences between communes and suggestions for how to change the mobility behavior overall. The term ‘culture’ plays here an important role. It is characterized as a culture that is consistently changeable and non-rigid. It is the same way with basic principles, which have left their mark on the planning of cities for a long time. Basic principles, however, are sluggish. It needs a long process to push through long term changes allowing the mobility culture of a commune to improve.

source: Nach Götz/Deffner 2009

stationary traffic

The stationary traffic is the opposite of the moving one. It describes vehicles that are parked, stationed, or not in running order. What does it mean for our cities, public space, and planning? Most stationary traffic takes up street space that consequently cannot be used by other road and transport users. In Berlin, for example, 58 % of the public space is used up by motorized private transport, 19 % of which is only stationary and does not fulfill its purpose of mobilizing citizens. This is where alternatives enter the game, which can cushion the problems of stationary traffic. One might be car-sharing, as one vehicle is used by various people, so it is stationed less and used more. Also, cities like Copenhagen have been forcing out stationary traffic through the reduction of inner-city parking space for a long time.


Main streets (Magistrals) are the ‘veins’ of the city and originates from the Latin word ‘magis’ which means ‘big’ or ‘most’. It is the main traffic route of a region in cities, counties, or departments. Main streets or ‘magistrals’ can refer to the railroads, but mostly the term is used to describe streets that direct car traffic. Magistrals are mostly dense areas distinguished through their heterogeneity. Different realities clash here, yet simultaneously they are spaces for encounters and transits. Main streets are defined by different centralities they represent and connect infrastructures like the supply and production of goods. Magistrals both unite but also divide urban spaces, as they form a physical barrier. Starting with this separation combined with noise and pollution, they can also drive forth urban social segregation.

First mile

The first mile is the distance that needs to be covered when getting to the main mode of transportation. The last mile is the final stretch that needs to be done before reaching the destination. The term comes from the telecommunication and describes the particularities to connect the end-users due to the high costs for installing infrastructure that is eventually only used by one household or person. The concept is crucial to diversify the mobility decisions of people as the first or last mile vastly represents a gap in the transport system. It also has importance for logistics companies as well as for the planning of the public transport system. Possible sustainable coverages of the first and last mile would be walking, car or ride-sharing, cycling, or the implementation of shuttles. In the case of deliveries for companies, last-mile strategies are key-tools to improve efficiencies.