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5 ways to kick start new urban mobility Ubeeqo
New urban mobility inevitably follows the traditional pattern of disseminating innovation. In spite of the media attention it attracts, and the many disparities in usage between towns and countries, car sharing, carpooling or light mobility is generally still only at the stage of the “early adopters”. Yet, the private car seems destined to be doomed in our asphyxiated town centres, where it will be replaced by other ways of getting around which are more economical, more ecological and more enjoyable. There are five factors working together that will enable us to make the move from limited use to mass adoption, and their concurrent increasing importance suggests that this move could take place much more quickly than expected.
The first factor is demographic and its effects are already being felt. This is urban regeneration renewal giving way to “digital natives”. The latter are accustomed to new digital uses, responsive to practicalities and quality experiences, feeling no strong attachment to the symbolic value of the car, and being more interested in the use of the car rather than owning it, these people are both the primary target and the natural ambassadors of the new ways of getting around. They are automatically going to rapidly increase the number of users and thus increase their place and visibility in towns and cities.
The second factor is the involvement of government bodies and local authorities. Through decisions taken in terms of planning and regulations, they can take decisive action to encourage or, conversely, severely limit the emergence of new mobility. Many towns and cities however, have realised that this trend is inevitable, and that their ability to organise mobility is key in quality of life and appeal, despite certain initial reticence. Care will need to be taken in the coordination between the different decision-making bodies regarding transport, as well as the alignment of policies promoting various forms of mobility, as it is essential to provide users with a clear framework and convenient intermodality.
The third key factor was one of the watchwords of this winter: pollution. The many peaks recently recorded are not so much to do with meteorological conditions as with the urban atmosphere, which has become chronically saturated, largely caused by motorised vehicles. The concern is now public health and it is probable that we will move from exceptional initiatives (alternate driving days) to permanent initiatives (closing off city centres, tightening up technical standards). This regulatory context and, in turn, economical context which is highly unfavourable for private cars can only encourage alternative solutions.
The fourth factor in which government bodies also play an important part: communication. Little is known about services, terms are subject to confusion and conditions are unclear… All stakeholders need to connect with the public, to raise awareness and educate new users. Operators, in particular, need to simplify and clarify their services to improve convenience, making it a reflex response. Initial feedback and commitment to consolidation should contribute to its implantation.
Finally, the last factor; a little further away on the horizon, but which is rapidly approaching, the arrival of driverless vehicles. Whether they are robotaxis or shuttles, it is estimated that they will invade our towns and cities within 8 to 10 years, and will provide an additional mobility option combining comfort, convenience and speed. According to the specialists, the stumbling block today is less in the technology than in the preparation of a whole ecosystem for this unprecedented upheaval: regulations, roads, economic sectors and above all mentalities. But this inevitable revolution will undoubtedly plant the last nail in the coffin of owning a car in a city. Combined with the other factors already at work, it will enable new urban mobility to reach the critical mass of users, which will multiply the growth of networks and services, and demolish the last argument for the private car: being sure of having a means of transport to go where you want, when you want.
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