My car – our car – no car?

Technology, population growth, air quality and energy concerns are turning urban mobility on its head.

During Forum Smart City, the round table ‘New mobility: who will overcome the single occupancy vehicle [SOV]?’ threw light on changing attitudes to the car in cities and what’s behind this seismic shift in urban living.

Bringing new mobility_Cover_Nov 2017

“People are gradually giving up vehicle ownership and shifting to other modes,” confirmed Olivier Bonin, associate director, Laboratoire Ville Mobilité Transport, Ifsttar. “It’s important to detect these kinds of developments and exploit them intelligently.” 

He flagged up difficulties observed during this transitional phase, such as the willingness to car share or pool versus the complexity of coordinating this change in behaviour with existing work patterns and lifestyles. And then there’s the unavoidable situation where you just don’t want to be in the same vehicle as certain colleagues. “It’s all in the detail. We need to explore these aspects.”

“We are seeing a decrease in SOVs among company staff, who are looking more to ‘consume’ mobility rather than ‘own’ it,” said Jean-François Codina, director of new mobility at Arval, the French car hire firm and subsidiary of BNP Paribas.

“Yes cars are still important in specific cases, but they aren’t the only means of transport; there are other ways of getting around, like sharing or cycling,” he expanded. “Employees may leave their vehicles at home when they realise it’s possible to travel to and from their job with a co-worker. The younger generation must get used to this new kind of mobility,” he added.

  • To encourage uptake of transport modes other than the SOV, and different mobility habits, from January 2018 a new French law requires all companies with over 100 employees to provide a travel roadmap  (plan de déplacements entreprise, PDE)

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“The modal shift should involve incentives,” reckons Christophe Najdovski, Paris city (Ville de Paris) councillor in charge of transport, roads, travel, and public space,  “People want fast, practical and comfortable transport, plus seamless connections. We will continue to reduce space for SOVs.”

Plans by Ville de Paris set to squeeze out cars include a new cycle path on the historic rue de Rivoli, a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)-style route along part of the river Seine, and pedestrianising around the Carrousel du Louvre (currently choked with traffic).

  • When it comes to urban mobility, should cities continue to focus on vehicles, which implies more infrastructure, or switch to a ‘people-orientated’ approach?

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For carpooling to function efficiently, Frédérique Ville, directrice general of iDVROOM (‘Share the road, not the routine’), says platform providers need to work with local authorities, seamless connections with public transport are vital (travelcard hook-ups, good information), and everyone – drivers, riders, and companies – must be motivated.

Bringing new mobility_iDVROOM-Nov 2017

“I’d also like to highlight solidarity,” she added.  “A carpooling service like ours with an extremely competitive cost/passenger/km ratio and appealing time slots can offer affordable mobility for inhabitants beyond city centres.  We mustn’t ignore the importance of providing mobility for all.

  • In June 2018, the Navigo travelcard for Paris public transport may become free for the 200,000 Parisiens over 65 with a monthly income under 2,200 euros said city mayor Anne Hidalgo live on radio France Bleu Paris, January 10 

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