In order to provide future transport infrastructures, sustainable cities plan urban gondolas as a new means of public transit. This aerial transport system is installed in urban and peri-urban areas, especially to cross over natural or urban obstacles (river, forest, railway, road...). Non-existent in France, urban gondolas are mostly developed in South America and in North Africa. Due to the recent development of such infrastructures, there is really little scientific literature on the subject, as shown in this contribution.
To introduce urban gondolas as a new sustainable means of transport, we present its environmental impacts and its potential for renaturing cities, using two different methodologies providing results afterwards compared with another linear transport infrastructure: the tramway.
Few environmental impact assessments have been conducted so far. In order to assist government services in urban gondola appropriation and to upgrade scientific research, we introduce a methodology inspired by the French Environmental impact assessment (French Environmental Code, article R122-2 and the next) and leading to a decision support tool. The methodology, which includes evaluation of negative and positive impacts and compensatory measures, reveals very low impacts on the environment (biodiversity, air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, noise, energy consumption).
We also observe opportunities offered by this new public means of transport for city renaturation through ecological landscaping. Renaturation takes place on the gondola infrastructure (gondola stations, towers) but also beneath the line and its approaches, when country planning allows it. Using a series of criteria and evaluation indicators, we observe that urban gondolas offer a real potential for ecosystem services.
We expect this study to widen the scope of possibilities to provide sustainable urban mobility, challenged by the improvement of the environmental quality of cities and residents’ quality of life.
urban gondola, decision support tool; assessment; biodiversity; renaturation