Urban mobility: available solutions

Urban mobility is at the heart of air quality, attractiveness and daily travel for people in metropolitan areas and medium-sized cities in France and many other countries. Our guide to urban mobility shows theimpact of urban transportation and traffic on the quality of life and health of all urbanites.

At a time of ecological transition and electric vehicles, how can we introduce sustainable and environmentally friendly management of urban mobility? What are the existing and future solutions to meet the challenges of transporting people and goods in the cities of tomorrow?

We propose to detail what can and must be done to change practices and infrastructures in cities, with particular emphasis on the importance of multimodal mobility and new technologies for so-called intelligent travel.

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Multimodal urban mobility

By definition, multimodal transport refers to a system in which several modes of transport are used for travel from point A to point B. When applied to the city, multimodality focuses on the movement of people within the city's urban perimeter, whether for work, shopping or leisure. Therefore, modes of transport to and from cities (interurban mobility), such as trains, are not included in the analysis data and solutions.

In practice, multimodal urban mobility means optimized urban trips, which are made by linking several modes of transport, according to the needs and characteristics of each trip. The objective is to provide a wide range of choices for each trip, so as to reduce the individual use of the car for the entire trip.

By increasing the number of urban travel options and systems, it is easier to convince urban populations to adopt more environmentally friendly practices, without excluding from cities or depriving people attached to the individual vehicle of travel: car sharing, car pooling, electric vehicles (cars, bicycles, scooters, scooters) are possible solutions for those who do not wish to use public transport.

In addition to the modes of transportation available, the development of multimodal mobility requires two key elements: the creation of infrastructure reserved for soft mobility (dedicated traffic lanes for greater safety and the installation of electric recharging stations) and the use of new connected technologies to enable everyone to optimize their travel according to their current needs.

Responding to major challenges

What challenges do the new urban mobility solutions address? If urban mobility issues are so topical in France, it is because they highlight the impact of transportation and automobile traffic on our cities today and in the future.

The recent health crisis has been a real eye-opener on this point, in sometimes contrasting terms. On the one hand, demographics have recorded the desire of many urbanites to leave their large city of residence to improve their quality of life by moving to a smaller, more breathable city. On the other hand, sales of individual electric vehicles (cars and two-wheelers) have grown at an unprecedented rate, reflecting the desire to stay in the city, but without the inconvenience of travelling on public transport during rush hour.

It is essential to maintain the attractiveness of large cities, which are the spearhead of the country's economic and cultural activity. This is why urban mobility projects and resources must be geared to improving services and the general quality of life of urban dwellers, whether they are motorists, cyclists, public transport users or pedestrians.

Shared and sustainable mobility

For many French people living in cities, the individual car, whether internal combustion engine or electric, remains the vehicle of choice, symbolizing freedom and autonomy to get around.

Even if the reality of daily life in the city seems to show that owning and using a private car is now more associated with a financial burden (maintenance, parking, cost of fossil fuel) and a source of stress (damage, traffic congestion, road safety), we can understand those who do not wish to change their habits.

Several shared and sustainable mobility solutions are adapted to the demand to be able to keep the use of a car when the need or the necessity is felt. First of all, there is thecar-sharing system, which can take several forms: self-service rental of an electric vehicle, private rental or transportation on demand. There is also carpooling, a system in which the driver retains the choice of destination, but invites several people to share the car during the journey.

In both cases, shared mobility contributes to increasing the number of occupants and users of the same car, making it statistically less polluting and improving traffic flow by reducing the number of vehicles used by a single driver. These solutions are part of " mobility as a servicemake travel more intelligent.

The place of the electric car

It is possible to argue at length about the impact of the electric car on the environment in the long term. However, while waiting for a better solution, the most recent data confirms that an electric car, over its entire life cycle, is responsible for half as many polluting emissions as a car running on fossil fuels.

In addition to this lower impact on air quality in our cities, we must also add the reduction of traffic noise, knowing that noise is at the top of the list of daily nuisances that degrade the health of urban dwellers.

Electric cars and urban mobility are therefore inseparable from the means of fighting urban air pollution. This is why cities and public authorities must continue their efforts (infrastructure, purchase subsidies, self-service fleets) to encourage the purchase and use of electric cars.

In addition, electric vehicles of all types can be used to anticipate the implementation of traffic zones reserved for low-emission vehicles (ZFE-m).

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What are LDVs?

A MPT is a "motorized personal mobility device", which includes vehicles as diverse as electric scooters, gyropods and electric skates.

Since their appearance on the urban mobility market, these devices are considered as an alternative to the car, but they are also criticized for the difficulty of their cohabitation with other users and their lack of safety. The use of MPVs has long been associated with a legal vacuum, a vacuum that has been filled since 2019 by regulations and the application of a highway code to MPVs, whose speed is now limited to 25 km/h.

The regulations are largely inspired by those applied to bicycles and electric bikes in the city, namely the prohibition of riding on sidewalks for the safety of pedestrians.

Soft mobility

The most environmentally friendly and least expensive modes of travel are those that rely solely on human energy: walking, skating, cycling, rollerblading. These modes are particularly interesting for short trips and can be perfectly integrated into multimodal mobility.

To further strengthen their contribution to sustainable urban mobility, it is important to redesign the plans of future cities by reserving specific traffic areas for them, so as to improve the cohabitation and safety of pedestrians, cyclists and skaters.

In the city, when a pedestrian or cyclist is involved in an accident with a car, the proportions quickly become dramatic for the health or life of the one who is not protected by a body. The safety of users of soft mobility through pedestrianization is an essential condition for increasing their potential.

The role of public transport in urban mobility

It is impossible to think about urban mobility without considering the role of public transport. Clearly, this role is central and even essential to the future of sustainable and multimodal mobility.

Whether used by choice or by default, public transport faces multiple challenges to continuously improve its services and offerings by combining convenience, punctuality, high frequency, attractive fares, pleasant space, and user safety. Public transport management is a daily challenge that represents the keystone of urban mobility adapted to the challenges of health and well-being in our cities.

A motorist who is seduced by a trip on a tramway, bus or metro is a person who can question the systematic use of his car.

How to compare the different urban mobility solutions?

It is legitimate to try to compare the different modes of transport available in a city to determine which of these modes is the fastest, the most economical, or the most ecological.

To make a comparison for a particular trip, it is recommended to use applications connected to intelligent mobility systems. These applications are multiple and can be used with a smartphone or with a system integrated in an electric vehicle, for example.

To learn more about the global aspect of urban travel modes, we suggest you click on the following link to access a comparison of different urban mobility solutions.

Preparing for the urban mobility of the future

The evolution of the place of the combustion engine car in the city is moving towards a tightening of traffic conditions, between the exclusion of certain zones reserved for low-emission vehicles, alternating traffic in the event of pollution peaks, new taxes and a reduction in traffic lanes and parking spaces.

In order to prepare for all the regulations governing new urban mobility solutions, it seems obvious that the best initiative to take is to turn now to the acquisition, rental or car-sharing of an electric vehicle.

Electric cars and electric bicycles are the vehicles that will best adapt to the demands of tomorrow's urban mobility.

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