Mobility : what are the things not to do? 
Analysis of - Signalling technician and railways observer
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The COP21 will soon open in Paris. Probably a new session for nothing and just to hear it said that we are heading to a wall with the automobile age and that we must to change the world to go to a post-petrol era. Since about 30 years we talk about the same thema without notorious changes. Why? Because this is inconsistent with the on-the-ground reality. Let us look at that in greater detail.

A theoretical debate
Recently two scientists are asking this question: «Observing the routines - time-dependent strategies that individuals and families use on a repetitive basis - is a good way of understanding the reasons behind their modal choices. » Well Gentlemen, it was time to think about it…Because others of your colleagues remained at basic approaches, predominantly urban, often forgetting that millions people don't live in a city but in a rurbanization chosen. The problem is that's mainly theorists who nourish the discourse on mobility and that go to all worldwide seminars, like the COP21.

The two scientists detect an unfortunate consequence: «That’s underlines the difficulty facing public authorities today when it comes to taking action: it's either far too general and involves moralising statements, norms that are complex and all-encompassing in nature, and a policy that is oriented around providing equipment. Or it’s far too centred on the individual through fiscal incentives and taxes. » Added to this, there is the opposition between radicals and moderates, which propose strategies that do not meet the daily issues of the citizen. So, we understand quickly why no progress has been made! What are the things not to do?

To send a moralising discourse
People do not like the demonization of their privacy by some environmental groups. They don't accept the moral that does not suit them. They do not care major philosophies and political theories. They are wary of the great thinkers and theorists. They have an ecological conscience but they want to keep their lifestyle and their values. They are not ready to give up consumption, but to moderate it. They are followers of change but not of radicalism.

To send the disconnected discourse from the reality
When you have to go to shopping quickly, the bus can take you there but it does not wait, and it takes many hours to get a simple bread or to go to a doctor. Unless you are lucky enough to live near a station or a tram, you have to put up with slow, infrequent and tortuous bus routes, which often do not run in the evenings or weekends. You are dependent on external elements that you do not control. But the idealistic continually say that this is an illusion, a perception, and that in a collective life, there is always constraints that we must accept. Even if you need two hours to buy your bread?

To oppose the train against the car
The train is a heavy technology that uses electricity, which requires every precaution to exploitation. Surely, the train is environmentally friendly and uses no fossil fuels except diesel trains. It is a excellent mass transportation for people who go to the same destination (a city for example). But it is therefore unrealistic to proclaim the train as the only answer from the traffic congestion: the train can't go everywhere, he will never have the size of the road network, which is more easier to build (gradients, curves, low-cost ...). After all, nobody wants to have the railway as neighbor ...

(photo by via flickr CC BY 2.0)
Everyone don’t live in a city !
In Europe, many people live outside the cities, they constituted even the majority. If you travel from Manchester to Milan, you understand the problem very quickly. England, Benelux, Germany, Switzerland, Lombardy, this vast economic powerhouse of 1000 kilometers is in reality a single urbanization. Are these the people we should be targeting to a politic without car? Of course, it is a duty for tomorrow to stop rampant urbanization. But rurbanisation today will be not destroyed tomorrow. They will be sold for our children who have need affordable houses, who probably will resume the same lifestyle with some variations. Today's habitat, which will be old tomorrow, will certainly be renovated with more consistent elements for a low power consumption design. But mobility will remain what it is. The distances will not to change tomorrow. However, we can further promote the bike when it is not raining and opening smaller stores close people, by hoping that the quality follows with affordable prices, which is not always the case of the local stores.

So, should we do nothing?
Quite the contrary ! But we must to target the key issue where we can make a difference. The choice of transport is influenced by several factors, such as individual characteristics of your lifestyle, the type of journey, the perceived service performance of each transport mode and situational variables. This suggests the need for segmentation taking into account travel attitudes and behaviours. Policies which aim to influence car usage should be targeted at the market segments that are most motivated to change and willing to reduce frequency of car use. We find this motivation in more urban areas, not in province and semi-rural areas.

The real future of mobility
More and more Europeans will be travel over the coming decades. We can’t deny that evidence. The futur of mobility is mainly where there is the greatest possible gain that mobility policy should be targeted. In other words, on the side of cities and urban areas, where new practices can and should be encouraged, such as cycling or public transports abundant and secured. The future is not opposition from one mode of transport to another, but a clever combination of all modes, depending on the type of movement, his rhythm and the hour range (day or evening). The future of mobility is a mixed solution. We can drive substitution strategies, including the development of new technologies such as electric vehicles and to a limited extent also the further deployment of sustainable biofuels. Improving our practices does not mean wiping the slate clean of our modern society, but keeping what is best and changing what only must be changed. The major theories and the demonization of our lifestyle will make no impact on the problems there is a desire to solve.

Meanwhile, the world leaders will go with complacency in large global seminars, to haggle their tons of CO2. They will meet theorists who will continue to send their political and moralistic discourses. Two worlds, but only one planet...