How can urban mobility improve the quality of life in cities?

The economic and cultural attractiveness of large urban centers has considerably increased population density in French metropolises, resulting in an exponential increase in travel flows and infrastructure needs related to the movement of people and goods.

The first consequence of this development of mobility in cities, all vehicles combined, is a notable deterioration in the quality of life for the majority of urban dwellers, including those who do not travel by car and have already adopted solutions to reduce the impact of transport on the quality of life in cities.

Pollution (greenhouse gas emissions and fine particles), noise, stress, the cost of a parking space, time lost in traffic jams, saturation of public transport during rush hours, and the difficulty of cohabiting between different modes of transport: this is the unfortunate assessment of the situation in most of the country's large cities.

At a time of great change and ecological transition, what changes can we expect and what are the benefits of new urban mobility solutions?

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Figures on the ecological impact of urban mobility

Environmental issues have taken on real importance throughout France, but it is in cities and urban areas that we see both the greatest nuisance and the emergence of solutions for intelligent, soft, clean and sustainable mobility.

To better understand the impact of urban mobility on the quality of life and health of inhabitants, here are some figures

  • trips of less than 3 km made by car pollute twice as much in urban areas as on the road;
  • one third of greenhouse gas emissions in France are due to transport;
  • since the beginning of the century, all sectors have stabilized or decreased their CO2 emissions, except the transportation sector;
  • 5 million urban workers working less than 5 km from their homes use their cars to get to work;
  • 92 out of every 100 cars driven in the city are fossil fuel vehicles;
  • the human cost of air pollution by fine particles is estimated at 48,000 premature deaths per year in France.

In addition to these figures, which are representative of the situation in urban areas and the need for change and innovation, it should be added that, for a typical urban journey of less than 5 km, 60% of working people prefer to travel by private car, compared with 23% for active modes (walking or cycling), 15% for public transport and 2% for thermal or electric two-wheelers.

The impact of urban mobility and road traffic is therefore a topical issue for the environment and the health of our cities' inhabitants. According to theADEME (French Agency for Ecological Transition), the social cost of health problems in cities represents the astronomical sum of 20 to 30 billion euros per year.

To remedy these numerous problems, it is necessary to multiply solutions and services and to coordinate the commitment of everyone: public authorities (management of mobility, infrastructures and spaces), road and public transport users and companies whose activity is located in urban areas. We will also see, as advocated by experts in the field of the environment and urban mobility, that it is absolutely necessary to integrate the many new solutions provided by intelligent technologies and connected systems into the overall ecological transition project.

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Meeting the challenges of the city of tomorrow

If urban mobility is one of the main causes of the deterioration of the quality of life in cities, it is therefore possible to affirm that solutions aimed at developing new alternatives can contribute to improving the latter, by helping people to move around better and to circulate better.

The first point, which seems obvious to everyone, is the place given to the car (a term that includes all types of non-electric thermal vehicles), which is the primary cause of urban pollution. It is now known that the more space is given to the car in the city, the more cars there are on the road. Each new project to develop traffic areas, making more room for cars in the hope of naturally easing traffic, has generally only served to increase traffic, nuisances and pollution.

Consequently, public authorities must think in terms of the cities of the future whose plans are redesigned in such a way as to encourage new modes of transport, even if this is to the detriment of the space and circulation areas allocated to cars. Beyond the strictly pollution-related aspect, providing dedicated sites for bicycles, electric bicycles, electric scooters and other alternative modes of transport considerably improves road safety for the users of these spaces.

Urban sites reserved for clean transport modes contribute to a better cohabitation between pedestrians, bicycles, electric vehicles and cars or trucks with combustion engines. The sense of safety encourages environmentally friendly behavior and can shift many motorists to modern , multimodal urban mobility without unnecessary polluting trips.

New technologies and connected transport systems

New technologies and connected systems represent a major contribution to the implementation of more intelligent solutions and, consequently, smoother, gentler for the environment and at the service of all.

In addition to the development of electric vehicles and other motorization methods, technologies and connected objects make it possible to find the best transport solution at any time and for any type of trip, taking into account the needs of users and the circumstances of the moment.

Thus, with a smartphone or a vehicle connected to a geolocation system and mobility applications, it has become simple to determine the most efficient, fastest, most ecological or least expensive solution according to the needs of each individual. Should we travel alone or with others? What is the weather like? How much travel time is available? Do you have to carry groceries or a large object? Is the trip on flat or uphill roads? With new technologies, it is possible to determine the best multimodal solution in each case.

Moreover, connected systems are also decisive elements for a better management of public transport and car-sharing offers of electric cars or clean vehicles available by subscription or by sharing service.

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