Car use in post-covid urban mobility

The Covid-19 crisis has turned our lives upside down as well as mobility around the world. Indeed, citizens across the globe have seen their freedom to move curtailed with confinement and health restrictions. For 1 in 2 French people, the health crisis has changed their outlook on mobility … The Covid-19 crisis has brought mobility to a sudden and unprecedented end. From March 17, a very large majority of French people were faced with a partial or even total stop of their mobility. Some employees have been forced to work from home 100% or a few days a week, others have changed their way of travel out of fear or environmental awareness.

Individual car using in the post covid urban mobility

Towards a revolution in ground transport modes?

Since the end of the first lockdown, the French have shown their willingness to change the way they travel, thus abandoning public transport to move towards individual transport. According to a study by Monsieur Parking, regular personal use of the bicycle (electric or not) increases sharply (+ 70% of regular users) is ahead of walking (+ 13%) and the car (+ 4%) to the detriment public transport which risks losing 23% of regular users – in the case of personal travel – when returning to a normal health situation. 

The reasons for these changes can have multiple causes. This is on the one hand the fear of contagion because in public transport, promiscuity with strangers is more important. What was previously felt to be at best unpleasant and stressful is now a health risk for certain groups of people.

This revolution in transport means currently only concerns personal travel. For home-work trips, 32% of employees have changed their means of transport in relation to the crisis but they say that they will resume public transport when their activity and the situation return to normal. sanitary. This change in mentality could be beneficial for the environmental situation of the world and the automobile overpopulation of cities.

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We also note that motorized travel has picked up well since last summer as in Lyon where the level of traffic corresponds to 95% of that of the pre-crisis according to data from the metropolis of Lyon last summer. Will the period we are going through change certain mentalities ? Force us to realize that in order to change the habits of users and allay their fears, an ambitious mobility plan is necessary, in particular if we wish to continue to contribute to the reduction in CO2 emissions recorded in 2020 to 7% . (Source Global Carbon Project, December 11, 2020)

In order to put an end to autolism, it is necessary to develop a convincing offer of transport capable of meeting the needs of different users combining practicality, safety and compliance with health standards. To contribute to efforts to reduce CO2 emissions and preserve air quality, users must be offered alternatives to purchasing a car running on fossil fuels, in addition to the development of public transport networks. Is the solution in multimodal urban mobility? Many cities are reflecting on this subject, for example the Parisian authorities are considering the construction of a more developed cycling network, Milan plans to develop pedestrian and cycle streets in its post-containment planning, or even in Copenhagen and Denmark where there are aerial cycle paths, footrests at red lights or even bins suitable for bicycles.

Piste cyclable Copenhague

Bringing together the different uses of mobility

In 2018, the city of Paris’s vehicle fleet represented more than 450,000 vehicles for 621,000 parking spaces. Let us add the trips made by motorists entering the capital on a daily basis, this allows us to explain the current congestion within cities. Therefore, we must ask ourselves how could we overcome this by developing a new, more daring and environmentally friendly offer. With the impact of Covid-19, this has made us rethink our travel methods, we must be inspired by it and adapt it for 2021, rethinking urban mobility requires reconciling urban planning and innovation. Switching to 100% public transport, bicycles, scooters or 100% autosolism are not the perfect solutions because these diversified means of transport are complementary and cannot be totally opposed. Digital then comes into play in this reflection.

The use of digital in the service of health standards and fluidity of mobility

With the taking into account the health crisis and the importance of barrier actions, many motorists also want to be able to park in peace. To meet this, cities are integrating more mobile, contactless payment solutions to make parking more intuitive, fast and in line with health measures. 

In this health crisis still far from over, digital plays a very important role in urban mobility. It was one of the main tools for cities in response to mobility during this pandemic, thus making it possible to monitor the risk of contagion in frequented places, ensure compliance with containment / curfew, carry out prevention but also promote continuity of certain economic services and activities. These tools will remain anchored in the strategy of certain cities and companies, even after this crisis. 

In France, after experiments launched by Transdev, RATP or even SNCF in 2019, the MaaS (or the possibility of traveling in the city thanks to a single platform) returned to the front of the stage after exiting containment. Last June, the SNCF group opened the ball rolling by announcing the entry of new partners including Uber in its application, the SNCF Assistant. For its part, the mobility operator Transdev launched its multimodality application at the end of September and more recently it was the RATP that was making the news by buying Mappy. So many initiatives maintained in the midst of a pandemic, a sign that the subject of urban mobility is at the center of the strategies of these public transport operators.

To go further on the Maas (Mobility as a Service) 

This use of digital technology will help relieve congestion in cities and streamline mobility as a whole, whether for public transport, the real-time supply of parking spaces. parking and on-street parking.

A notable problem : infrastructures

Minimizing the place of the individual motor vehicle nevertheless poses a problem as regards infrastructures. Post-Covid-19 mobility will accelerate and resume to reach the ex ante standards that we knew in early 2020, to overcome this, we must anticipate.

This is one of the main lessons we will have learned from this crisis, forecasting is now essential because everything can be turned upside down overnight. Therefore, if we want to ensure modern urban mobility that is respectful of the environment and reliable in terms of security, we must act now.

What will tomorrow's urban mobility look like?

However, these changes will always depend on the pre-COVID habits of each consumer. Those who already have a car will tend to use it more often, while those who relied exclusively on public transport will tend to buy a bicycle or get around on foot. There is nevertheless a not insignificant enthusiasm for individual means of locomotion (bicycle in the lead) to the detriment of public transport; but only for personal travel. 

Will these changes last over time? Will they be the first signs of a trigger concerning an evolution of our way of moving? 

To promote this transition, can the multimodal offer be a miracle solution? The personal motor vehicle remains a major and indispensable pillar of mobility, however, the covid-19 crisis has sparked new enthusiasm as well as an acceleration of the race for innovation and multimodality, already launched before the crisis. The emergence of new technologies, data sharing, and new environmental approaches bring these innovations to the forefront, as we have mentioned with SNCF or even Transdev in France. These examples flourish across the world show that multimodality is the future of the city of tomorrow and that one way of transport is complementary to another. All the more, since the crisis has shown us that we must move quickly in order to reinvent mobility, in order to guarantee good social distancing, a better environmental impact, a smoother travel, MaaS solutions also make it possible to better inform users, to create “ticketing” systems via their smartphone for public transport, thus creating routes adapted to their needs. 

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