As transportations’ worldwide share of greenhouse gas effect is up to 25%, the COVID crisis opened our eyes to multiple modal alternatives to road mobility which can speed up the transition towards decarbonized mobility and push back the limits of the system resilience to changes.
This health crisis also questioned the use of a personal car as a default mean of transportation considering how its negative effects faded away during the lockdown and revealed how heavy they are: pollution, noise, and congestion.
Unlocking social and psychological barriers
Beyond the creation of an infrastructure and a service offer for alternative means of transportation, a change in behavior is also required to remove barriers still discouraging individuals when it concerns safety, on time arrival, cleanliness, and reliability. These social and psychological obstacles come from a blurry understanding of climate change challenges and a lack of trust in alternative transportation modes for personal cars’ users. Yet, taking the subway or the train generates 30 times less greenhouse gas emissions than using a car. As it is predicted that 70% of the population will be living in cities by 2050, carrying out awareness campaigns on climate change and improving greener and safer mobility offers have become critical.
The law as bearing point
Advising personal car users is the main challenge to make them switch (if the planned trip cannot be cancelled) to a more virtuous mean of transportation (electrical vehicles, public transportation, bicycle, etc.). Three key success factors have to be stimulated: deploying virtuous mobility solutions throughout the whole country, promoting the technological development of alternative modes and supporting financially the transition to cleaner modes. It is where the 2019 French law on mobility guidance takes action for example. In addition to prohibiting sales of fossil-fueled vehicles, this law set a target of tripling the use of bicycles by 2024. This French law also defines a budget of €1.2 billion to develop clean, shared and active mobility solutions, including €350 million in favor of bicycle already started to be invested in 2018.
Technological initiatives and data to create alternatives
As we observe it in the rail transport industry, creating a technological alternative to fossil-fueled motorization is possible. The growth of rolling stock powered with batteries or hydrogen to replace diesel-powered rolling stock is just an example among so many others. In the automotive industry, we can mention initiatives to shift toward service-oriented road mobility: private car rental with check-in and check-out in every available agency, vehicle sharing between individuals (rental or property), carpooling or on-demand transportation. Beyond the transition to a more virtuous motorization, these alternatives lead doubtlessly to a reduction of vehicles on the road and therefore, to a reduction of traffic jam and pollution. Raising eco-driving awareness is also a key lever at this time of the current transition. And finally, the digitalization of mobility infrastructures and mobility uses has been a springboard for sustainable mobility. Data, (real time or historical) provide key lever to make the mobility system smarter. The infrastructure or network operator get a precious help in the decision-making process for daily operations. And the end-user is able to make a informed choice and decide for the most virtuous mode (or combination of modes) or itinerary and not only the fastest or shortest.
Understanding of the necessity of acting is getting stronger. The transition is starting slowly but steadily. The technological and digital initiatives and innovations are multiplying. Let’s promote them without preconceptions and head them towards collective goals.
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