What is urban mobility?

In recent decades, the urban landscape has changed significantly. The proper term of city has been gradually transformed into a more accurate notion: urban space.

This new notion has a direct consequence on the need to set up facilitated mobility services. The travel time of people living in large cities and their suburbs is now a real criterion of choice when it comes to settling somewhere. Whether it is a question of travel to shopping, work or leisure, the time spent in the latter is of real importance. Faced with this, the urban landscape and the means of transport available to the population are changing. Individual travel devices (bicycles, electric scooters, etc.), development of public transport, the urban landscape is changing. In other words, the city dweller is at the heart of urban policy issues. Soft mobility, shared mobility and sustainable mobility, what is the state of play for urban mobility? Focus on the definition of urban mobility.

Qu'est-ce que la mobilité urbaine ?-1

Differentiating between mobility and urban mobility

Although mobility and transport are often discussed as two similar concepts, the reality is quite different. Distinguishing between these two concepts is essential for the implementation of a mobility system that meets the needs of citizens.

Mobility encompasses all means of transportation that are intended to facilitate the movement of city dwellers. Urban mobility is a more precise term that refers to a well-defined urban area and not to large cities and metropolises in general. The latter represents the totality of daily trips.

The city as a place of mobility

In general, people choose to live or work in cities because of the presence and proximity of shops, leisure activities and transportation. However, this common desire leads to peak traffic times, and therefore naturally to saturated public transport. In addition, mobility needs require the creation of public transport services that meet everyone's expectations.

In order to meet the needs of the inhabitants, it is necessary to offer a varied and multiple transport service. Today, it is no longer enough to consider only infrastructure, organization and cost optimization. Urban mobility is based on an understanding of the city as a whole and not on mere technicality. Indeed, several important criteria allow us to envisage modern urban mobility:

  • considering all spaces ;
  • highlighting the social fabric
  • analyze the nature of the population's movements.

In this way, it remains possible to propose a logical and sustainable service, adapted to different spaces and needs.

The characteristics of modern urban mobility

Although urban mobility is primarily concerned with the travel options of large metropolitan areas and their suburbs, it is broadly concerned with inter-territorial accessibility. In other words, the landscape must be designed with a single objective in mind: to offer the population the possibility of moving around with ease. And this, regardless of their social origin and motor skills.

For many years, this role was fulfilled by the car. This mode of transport remains in the minds of many as the practical and ideal solution. However, this way of thinking has long excluded a certain part of the population. Without a varied offer of transport, individual or collective, for anyone who does not have a driver's license or a car, living in the city to get around easily is not enough.

In addition to the concern to offer a service adapted to the needs and to facilitate travel for everyone, developing urban mobility is part of a sustainable movement. Indeed, the plurality of means of transport, whatever they are, preserves the environment and fights against the fall of the purchasing power. Consequently, modern mobility is undeniably ethical on the economic and environmental levels. Thus, it responds to the issues raised by transport policy, committed to protecting public health and the environment.

Qu'est-ce que la mobilité urbaine ?-2

The different urban mobilities

Before delving into the subject and highlighting the multiple means of transport, it should be noted that the term urban mobility encompasses several factors:

  • travel;
  • transport; and
  • the point of departure; and
  • destination; and
  • the journey;
  • the means of transport ;
  • the reason for the trip.

Depending on the nature of the trip (business, shopping, leisure, etc.), the frequency of the trip and the distance traveled will differ. Analyzing multiple needs makes it possible to predict andanticipate flows, the degree of use and therefore traffic jams or the existence of an inadequate transport service.

Multimodal urban mobility

Depending on the distance and the motor skills of the people, the different means of locomotion include

  • walking ;
  • cycling (with or without motor)
  • scooters (electric or not)
  • Rollerblades ;
  • skateboarding
  • the gyroroue ;
  • the moped ;
  • the scooter ;
  • the car ;
  • the bus ;
  • the subway ;
  • the tramway ;
  • the RER ;
  • the train ;
  • etc.

Although public transport is used in the majority of cases, there are in fact a multitude of individual means of transport available to the population. Note that these, such as bicycles or electric scooters, are self-service in many cities.

Self-service and shared transport

Since 1997, the Netherlands has been offering a bike-sharing service to facilitate transportation for the population, to limit the theft of personal bikes and to alleviate the storage difficulties encountered. In 1976, the city of La Rochelle set up a complementary service to public transport: the yellow bikes. Located at three different rental points, 300 yellow bicycles were made available to the public on a self-service basis. Today, some cities offer the possibility to take advantage of 30 minutes of free use. This service, which is free for short trips, encourages city dwellers to think about their trips differently.

There is also car-sharing (a fleet of self-service cars, either motorized or electric) and shared mobility such as carpooling. This option is also being extended to daily trips with the BlaBlaCar Daily service. The latter promotes budget savings, limits greenhouse gas emissions and creates moments of exchange.

In conclusion, common thinking wrongly summarizes urban mobility as saturated public transport and poorly served cities. Faced with congested roads and the desire to reduce the carbon footprint associated with the many trips made by individual vehicles, it is urgent to propose an offer that avoids this mode of transport. The challenge is therefore to propose an adapted and diversified service in order not only to propose different offers, but also to overcome road and transport saturation. In other words, to facilitate the daily life of people living on the outskirts of large cities. Today, individual and public transport must naturally become part of the urban landscape and improve the quality of travel for everyone.

Modern urban mobility places the individual at the heart of its thinking and its development. The individual must be able to benefit from a varied offer that meets his or her needs and budget. This is as much an architectural challenge as a technical one, but it is necessary to make city life pleasant and accessible.

We recommend these other pages: