Mobility & Urbanization Policies in France

Everywhere in Europe, the preoccupation of the day is how to upgrade transportation infrastructure and adopt policies to meet the demand of a growing urban population. Multi-modal mobility schemes are becoming the urban planning paradigm through which Europe seeks to meet these challenges while also responding to pressure on being efficient and sustainable with energy use to fight climate change.

The policies in transportation planning and network development are as diverse as are the member countries of the European Union. The common European goal is to facilitate and provide easy access to mass transportation to citizens while maximizing energy and drastically cutting emissions of CO2.

This article focuses on mass transit planning and development patterns in France. The French scheme seeks to face the same major challenges that most world’s large metropolis face: congestion, pollution, aging of infrastructure, cost and greening the source of energy. Transportation in France is responsible for a third of greenhouse gas emissions. Paris is among world’s cities that have a high toll of air pollution.

The Multi-modal Mobility, what are we talking about?

In France and elsewhere this policy in transport functions through the prism of multi-modal modality.  A general definition is the ease and efficiency of route in which individuals and goods get from point A to point B using two or more modes of transportation on a continuous network with the slightest interruption.

Here we are concerned with urban mobility in France and in particular the basin of life (metropolitan area) of Ile de France. Therefore, multi-modal transport schemes mean that mass transit systems provide various modes of sharing systems, hubs, relays points where one can hop on a bus, light rail, train or bicycle.

In the Parisian Metropolitan area, the challenge is to make the transportation network and system work with fluidity, efficiently, proximity and accessibility to all.  That means building a network that takes into consideration people that use wheelchairs such as seniors, or infants and others with reduced physical mobility. That also means a system that issues only one ticket regardless how many networks or modes of transportation are chosen during a single journey – eliminating the needs to buy different tickets.  A system that reduces travel time at all scales: locally, regionally, nationally, and cross borders.

The public requires their mass transit system to grow in a smart way, using the latest technologies and connectivity to provide information.  Up-to-the-minute information that the public needs to decide and plan their travel itinerary, at any given moment. When is the next bus leaving from my stop? Will I make my train connection? Is my train running?

These are questions everyone needs to answer when deciding the combination of mass transportation that gets them to their destination in the quickest and most comfortable way.

Photo Credit: Philippe Paul

Dancing Traffic Light

81% more pedestrians waited at a red traffic light, thanks to this interactive dancing feature.

Created by Smart, they share “we believe that smart ideas can turn the city into a better place. Like a dancing traffic light that makes people wait and watch rather than walk through the red light.”

Watch and share your thoughts…

Why Walk?

Why Walk?

A monthly column on the obvious and unobvious benefits of walking as a means of transport and for life.

Many moments in our lives, live in our favorite music. So why not start this series of Why Walk? essays with the words of the prolific Prince: “The sun will shine upon you one day, if you’re always walkin’ your way”. Exactly right! The benefits of walking are endless and this featured column will attempt to highlight many of them and motive you, through the words of our writers and guest essayists.

Walking for me is a mission, it is my politics. It is how I learn about the world around me, the people around me and even about myself. It is how I sustain mental and physical health. And I am not alone. Walking is man’s first mode of transport: it should remain our primary mode to get from A to B. This is not about strolling or exercising, but walking as a way of life, as the primary consideration to how to get where we need to be.

What I really enjoy about walking is that walking is free. You do not even necessarily need shoes. If you choose, walking with bare feet is an option for many people. It provides the perfect scale in which to see our neighborhood, our city.

City living promotes this quite nicely, or at least in cities that are developed with people instead of the car in mind. These cities use sidewalks, paths, alleys, all as a continuing network of walkways for people to move through with ease. Good lighting and well-placed greenery as well as mix use buildings, all do their part in supporting walking. As Jaime Lerner so aptly describes, “the car is like our mother-in-law. It is important to keep her in the correct perspective and to not let her run our lives.”

My aim is to get everyone to question, reflect and truly consider where we can augment walking into our lives. It can be as minimal as taking stairs instead of the elevator. Or if you are ambitious, leading all the way towards taking the car out of the equation for daily life and depend on public transport, car pools or, bicycles, to supplement our “walk-commuting” (my term).

Being free of the car and being full of the outdoor elements of Mother Nature frees us from road rage, traffic jams, and/or parking hassles. Walking provides us with the sunshine we need to give us the vitamin D that our bodies crave. After all, “The sun will shine upon you one day, if you’re always walkin’ your way”.

Photo Credit: deathtothestockphoto.com

Elevating City Life