Elias Seddiki
Directeur du domaine Mobilité - BU Ville, Route & Mobilités
Published on June 15, 2020

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What future for urban mobility?

No doubt about it: the crisis that we are experiencing will change our mobility patterns in the long term, also offering opportunities to reduce air pollution.

Quelle futur pour la mobilité urbaine ?

- Crédits : fottoo - AdobeStock

The French are fully aware of the fact, with 38% of them saying that they might use more ‘active’ (self-propelled) forms of transport to get around, according to a survey by Forum Vies Mobiles conducted during lockdown. This fundamental modal shift towards active modes is something which must naturally be encouraged and made to happen in practice, and we already offer several ways to facilitate this.

This modal shift must naturally be accompanied by more appealing public transport, which literally collapsed during lockdown.

To make this transport feasible during the crisis, the emergency situation had to be dealt with by employing exceptional public health measures such as wearing face coverings and introducing social distancing, but in the medium term it will be necessary to go further and make public transport services more flexible to cater to new working patterns.

Attention should also be paid to better interfacing between public transport and active modes by implementing proper intermodal transportation hubs. This need to connect up different modes is a genuine one, since during the epidemic there was an immediate and positive reaction through the temporary introduction of new cycle paths. Nevertheless, before any action or decisions are taken, we require a general perspective of mobility in the medium and long terms so that any changes introduced are meaningful and, most importantly, sustainable.

To increase the appeal of public transport, it is also useful to have real-time knowledge of public transport crowding and, prior to travel, propose the appropriate time slot, or even offer a guaranteed seat.

Finally, all these measures will need to be funded at a time when public finance is under strain for both public transport authorities and local government, meaning that the possibility of cooperation between public and private sector organisations should not be overlooked.

All these considerations should be brought to the table if we want to positively reset our relationship with Mobility. This unprecedented episode is an excellent chance to transform constraints into opportunities for a better future!

Did you know that the Chinese word for ‘crisis’ is made up of two characters: one representing danger and the other, opportunity? These two terms, whilst appearing to be at odds with one another, are not opposites in Chinese semantics: indeed quite the contrary. They are complementary and augment one another: the crisis thus becomes a synonym for opportunity in the midst of the danger. This underlines the necessity of adopting a positive and optimistic attitude to the crisis so as to anticipate a positive conclusion by harnessing new opportunities.

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