More modest and sensible, urban mobility is evolving to fight against pollution and help ease the flow of traffic in our cities.
Citizens are on the front lines of the changes affecting urban mobility. Whether managing travel times or seeking to reduce their environmental impact, users of shared or public transit look for the best combination of transportation options among those at their disposal.
Micromobility is the umbrella term for electric vehicles weighing less than 500 kg (scooters, skateboards, folding bikes and even hoverboards). These methods of transport make it easy, for example, to travel the last few hundred metres between a tube station and one’s workplace.
Almost 150 million of these personal mobility devices (PMDs) were in circulation worldwide in 2018. And in the next ten years that number should reach no less than 1.1 billion.
Among the most popular PMDs, but also one of the most controversial, is the electric scooter. Proof of its success in Europe is that five manufacturers saw an increase in capital of 150 million dollars last year.
The development of subsidies for the purchase of these PMDs is related to their success. For example, the city of Paris offers 400 euros towards the purchase of an electric bike, while in the United Kingdom, a discount of 1,500 pounds sterling is applied to the purchase price of an electric moped or bike.
As for electric vehicles, they are also the beneficiaries, in several countries, of tax incentives and purchasing aids. When combined with the expansion of their uses, these measures encourage the purchase of electric vehicles. As proof, sales to individuals and professionals increased 45 % in Europe between 2017 and 2018.
Shared electric mobility (carsharing, ride-hailing and carpooling) is also on the rise. The proof of its success is that 7,000 electric vehicles from a single manufacturer — Renault — were available for carsharing in Europe during the 1st half of 2019.
Multimodal mobility entails the coexistence of all these different means of transport in a shared urban space. Cities must adapt to electric mobility and rethink the spaces allocated to different modes of transportation in order to share their roads. In Belgium, government authorities are considering the creation of Park and Ride facilities or parking lots dedicated to bicycles on the outskirts of cities.
In Europe, some 250 low-emission zones are also contributing to the reinvention of urban mobility, all while improving air quality.
For example, as early as 2003, London set up a toll system to tighten access during the week. And in April 2019, the British capital entered a new stage with the establishment of the 1st ultra-low-emission zone in Europe. How does it work? A tax of 14.5 euros per day is charged to owners of pre-2006 petrol cars and pre-2015 diesel cars who wish to enter the city.
At the same time, Madrid has been instating low-emission zones to regulate traffic and parking. Henceforth, only vehicles bearing a Zero Emission sticker can drive and park in the regulated zones of the city centre without any time limitations.
Such is not the case for vehicles with an ECO sticker, which can enter and park in the area for a maximum of 2 hours. Finally, vehicles with a B or C sticker are only allowed into the centre of Madrid to park in a private garage, a public parking lot or a private parking space.
In parallel with the development of low-emission zones in major European cities, the network of charging stations will continue to grow in the coming years. This despite the fact that the current situation already appears to be satisfactory, with one station for every five electric vehicles in Europe while the average recommended by the European Commission is one station for every ten electric vehicles. But by 2030, 2.8 million charge points will be necessary to meet the travel needs of Europe.
Perceived as a way to improve the flow of traffic and facilitate travel within the city, autonomous, electric, connected and shared cars promise a bright future. The proof is in the numbers: 47% of Europeans would be willing to give up their car in order to use “robot taxis” for their everyday travel needs. And these same autonomous cars enjoy a 52% confidence rate in the United Kingdom, 64% in France and 71% in Italy.
As proof of their potential, in 2018, Renault revealed a trio of autonomous vehicles adapted to shared mobility. Among them was the EZ-GO, a shared taxi capable of transporting up to six passengers on their daily trips around an urban environment.
In parallel with the development of concept cars, the diamond brand is conducting experiments on the Saclay plateau and in Rouen, where autonomous and shared Renault ZOEs are providing public transportation services.
And that’s not all, since in 2019 Renault is continuing its exploration of the possible futures of mobility with EZ-POD. This self-learning and 100% electric machine, with a small vehicle footprint, was designed to complement shared mobility options for first and last kilometre services, whether transporting people or goods.
The increase in travel demands calls for a constant reflection on sustainable mobility. With electric shared mobility, which is already well established in several European cities, the autonomous car is slowly becoming a reality.
Copyrights : iStock, Renault Design
Cities & planning