His study, which is based on various official statistics (ADEME, CES and CAS) shows the significant trends that are driving our society towards new means of mobility. Without going into the numerical details referred to during his presentation (NB: the minutes of the day can be found on the http://gerpisa.org website or on the http://leblog.gerpisa.org blog ), Olivier Paul-Dubois-Taine demonstrated the necessity of rethinking our current modes of mobility and of proposing solutions.
New mobility is not merely reliant on individuals and their individual behaviour and is, above all, the responsibility of local politicians and citizens. In order to avoid the social disparities linked to mobility access (i.e. those households not having an alternative to a car or having limited resources), it is important to consider sustainable development not as straightforward individual accountability, but rather as a way of re-examining how our urban space and our way of life are organised.
It is often said that the development of public transport can contribute to bringing a permanent solution to this problem, yet, as Olivier Paul-Dubois-Taine demonstrates, this is far from being optimal. Increasing the number of buses and school bus routes would undeniably cause a significant increase in CO2 emissions per inhabitant, yet without providing genuine improvements in terms of people’s mobility (NB: see the minutes of the day).
We need, therefore, to examine technology, territory and social fabric, since mobility must not simply be conceived as the capacity to cover a certain distance; it is a way of travelling to the various facilities that characterise everyday life: work, culture, social life, shopping … In other words, mobility questions our territorial organisation, which must be considered in terms of access to services. To do so, it is possible to act at different levels, among which the development of more cost- and fuel-efficient vehicles, the implementation of mobility services allowing the rational use of these new vehicles (carpooling, car sharing…) and the development of remote telecommunications (homeworking, home delivery …) are the most important.
In the same way, and in the longer term, we need to take a fresh look at accessibility to services depending on the territories concerned and to find new adjustment limits so as to promote mobility as much as possible. Concentrating on replacing and limiting vehicles is not the only solution. We need to rethink the whole system. Accessibility to housing and territories is a key question and the location of everyday services must be organised, reconsidered and planned. For this, it seems appropriate to refocus our activities on residential zones and service hubs, and to limit and carefully consider the daily use of vehicles that are less heavy, consume less and pollute less than is the currently the case.
As highlighted by Olivier Paul-Dubois-Taine, the car must no longer be the central access point to mobility. Social and technological transformation must be considered as a system combining the different aspects already referred to. This means that the breakaway represented by new means of mobility cannot happen without the assistance of local authorities and intensive communication in order to make local players and citizens responsible. Although the development of electric vehicles and new services may lead to the appearance of new operators with solutions for the future, it is important for governments to contribute towards the development of this trend. In any case, they will have to come to terms with it sooner or later.
ADEME – the French Environment and Energy Management Agency
CES – the Economic and Social Council, which is France's third most important constitutional assembly and issues recommendations to the French authorities and also takes part in the legislative process on bills to be submitted for approval in the French Parliament.
CAS – the Strategic Analysis Centre, which works directly for the Prime Minister, and whose objective is to assist the government in defining and implementing its economic, social, environmental and cultural policies.
Axel Villareal is a PhD candidate in Political Science, co-editor of the blog GERPISA (Group for Study and Research on Permanent Industry and its Employees in Automotive).