Low Emission Zones (LEZ) are coming to major cities across Europe. Following the examples of Amsterdam and Madrid, and preparations in Paris and Manchester in the UK, LEZs will be introduced in 35 French towns and cities by 2025.
Restricting access of single-occupancy cars to city centres
LEZs will manage/restrict the access of single-occupancy cars to city centres. Soon, almost half the French population will soon be affected by this. Access for vehicles that produce the most pollution will become increasingly strict over time. This will usher in a “third mode” of more environmentally friendly transport options.
Improving the environment, economy and sustainability
Third mode transportation will reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. It also connects people and businesses more effectively, continuously improving a city’s social and economic connectivity. The quality of life for its residents improves, with major health benefits. By becoming Smart Cities, and with the right collaborations, cities will be able to overcome the challenges of creating LEZs and improve the experiences of residents, businesses and tourists in our major cities.
Winning back urban space.
Cities were built for cars. In the thirty years of intense industrialisation post WWII French cities were built across large, disparate spaces in the American fashion. Cars were increasingly relied upon to traverse the cities’ sprawling geography. The impact of this can be seen today in environmental and health problems of urban living, and economic and social isolation.
Helping to build back better by connecting people, business and amenities
Today, cities are beginning to develop new strategies to improve the environment and overcome societal and urban planning challenges. The aim is to transform cities from isolated and inaccessible service hubs, to polycentric metropolitan areas. In these modern and forward-thinking cities, a resident can ideally reach every service or amenity they need within 15 minutes by foot or bike. There will be minimal travel between housing, offices, restaurants, parks, hospitals and cultural and entertainment venues. Providing residents with better, more convenient, access to businesses and amenities will help cities build back better in a post Covid-19 world.
Enabling people to change their choice of transportation
Planning this reconfiguration of urban spaces involves enabling people to change the way they behave when choosing their mode of transport. It integrates all forms of mobility: walking, cycling, car-sharing, carpooling and scooters. Together, these different forms of transport form a “third mode” of travel after singularly occupied cars and public transport. Planning involves connecting these components, people and businesses with one another safely and reliably so people have the trust and confidence they can reach their destination in efficient time and also complete safety.
Reclaiming city spaces from cars
The aim is to no longer be held hostage to ideas about how mobility used to be, with cars being an unavoidable first choice, but to encourage people to rethink urban mobility to promote better control of urban flows. Egis and its partners are committed to improve the quality of urban life whilst a city also continues to compete on a global economic and business scale. This transition is the true inspiration that will drive behavioural change and successful innovative Mobility as a Service (MaaS) projects.
Improving quality of life.
LEZs and the corresponding use of the third mode of mobility will transform cities into quieter, calmer and more peaceful areas. Residents, businesses and tourists will experience a better quality of life in the cities with noise and air pollution dramatically reduced.
Breathing cleaner air
Now, more than ever we are acutely aware of the impact of the quality of air we breathe on our health. Introducing LEZs and enabling the use of the third mode has substantial health benefits. Currently, estimations indicate toxic gases cause 17.3% of the 500,000 premature deaths in France each year. Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) and microparticles, including those from tyres play a large role in these figures. They also severely impact children’s health by exacerbating respiratory illnesses such as asthma and create legacy impacts on historically significant buildings and streets. By creating LEZs in which people are able to choose a third mode of mobility, our cities will also reduce their greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming and keep their people healthier and safer.
Understanding unique urban flows as a Smart City.
However, no two cities are the same. Each city’s urban mobility and flow is unique to them. Therefore, each city needs to understand its urban flow, and plan and use its resources strategically in order to redevelop its infrastructure to offer more third mode options. Creating LEZs is about much more than restricting the access of polluting vehicles to urban space. It’s about reshaping the organization of a city by simplifying access to services and infrastructures. To do this, cities need to use innovative technologies that will help them understand and control their unique urban flows.
Optimising the consumption of public spaces as a Smart City
The Smart City is a digital city. It collects data using electronic methods and sensors. Insights gained from that data are used to manage assets, resources and services efficiently. This improves operations across the city. The Smart City optimises the consumption of its public space. It understands its residents’ pace of life by taking its own pulse and will seek to rebalance its own metabolism. This will lead to the integration of circular economy projects into the deployment of restricted traffic zones.
Transforming public spaces to enable behavioural changes and optimise urban flows
To enable people to choose third mode options of transport, cities need to have the infrastructure in place. Third mode mobility options will include cycle paths and lanes, widened pavements and pedestrian streets, pick-up points, parking for bikes, motorbikes and scooters, park-and-ride and car-sharing facilities, Bus Rapid Transit routes, etc.
Working together to achieve transformational change
Achieving this transformational change will depend upon the participation and contribution of residents, users of city centres, the providers of transport, car parking facilities and new shared and active mobilities. The Smart City therefore needs to work together to implement LEZ and effective and efficient third mode. In France, public authorities tasked with transport policy, and vehicle parking policy and enforcement, are committed to working together with partners such as Egis for the assured implementation of this urban transformation. Together we will lead the public consultation phases, and subsequently will communicate and explain these changes to the public during the operational phases of future projects.