Montpellier: “It is inevitable that the place of the car will be reduced”

Transport economist Frédéric Héran is hosting a conference on “tomorrow’s journey” this Friday, May 20, in Montpellier. A city where everything is changing in this area …

Transport economist and urban planner, Frédéric Héran is a professor at the University of Lille 1 and a researcher. He will be in Montpellier this Friday, May 20 at 6 pm, at the Maison pour tous Albert-Camus (Lemasson district), to talk about how we will move tomorrow. An interesting vision, at a time when the Métropole de Montpellier is stepping up measures in favor of a quiet city: end of traffic in the city center, ring roads, developed and gradually free public transport, plan of bicycles …

Why don’t you believe in the future of the electric car?

Many people think that the electric car will save the car, but this is an illusion. Because we just won’t have enough materials to build many of them. Cars are always heavier (+ 60% in 50 years) and always more expensive (+ 30% in ten years), like SUVs which now account for 46%. And electric cars are the most expensive and heaviest. With the decline in purchasing power, used cars account for six out of seven cars sold! More than ever, public policies extend the dominance of the automobile, through subsidies to the sector. And, even electrically, the car still causes a lot of inconvenience: accidents, space consumption, upstream pollution, waste …

What are the solutions?

We have to deal with the problem from the beginning and first reduce the weight of the cars. But lighter materials, such as aluminum, require much more energy to produce and cost more. The other way is to reduce comfort and speed, but here we are touching on hypersensitive things.

How to replace the car, especially for people who do not live in urban areas?

We must first remember that it was the car that allowed the expansion of cities. But a German study has shown that the use of intermediate vehicles between the classic bicycle and the car would make it possible to make three-quarters of the current trips, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 44%.

What are these intermediate vehicles?

These are vehicles we didn’t see ten years ago, such as electric bikes, cargo bikes, or recumbent bikes. Or soon electric tricycles which are already very common in the Netherlands. Above all, they allow the elderly to move effortlessly and with assured balance. We can also mention mopeds, cars-bicycles, cars, minicars. But all this requires facilities for safe bicycles or quiet roads.

The Métropole de Montpellier wants to reduce traffic by closing a tunnel under the city center …

Such measures are very effective. In 2012, after the closure of the Mathilde de Rouen bridge following an accident, there was a 12% drop in traffic, all modes combined. This means that people have reorganized their movements. And that they have lied about traffic simulation models, which do not take into account changes in habits. These examples of “evaporated traffic” are numerous. This is an observation, not a theory.

Montpellier is gradually moving to free public transport …

Unfortunately, free admission attracts cyclists and pedestrians first, then motorists, without knowing if they are drivers or passengers, due to the lack of serious study on the subject. We can think, for example, that it will be the high school or high school student who will take the free public transportation first, which will prevent one of their parents from having to make the detour to leave it. But this one will always go to work! On the other hand, if public transportation takes up space for the car in public space, it becomes more attractive to drivers. In Nantes, the Busway (bus with a high level of service) occupies the two central lanes of an old penetrating motorway (the A801), which has conquered many motorists!

Do car sharing and telecommuting reduce car space?

Very small. The carpool attracts mainly public transport users. And teleworking allows you to live farther from work or work farther from home and, ultimately, covering as many distances as before. Ultimately, road improvements never save time, but they always allow us to go further.

Will car space be reduced?

Is inevitable. Just for parking, one car uses three parking spaces: one at home, one at work, and one shared at other destinations. This represents an area of ​​65 m², including access to the seats. For a home, a Frenchman needs an average of 40 m², including a second home!

“To ride a bike, you need a quiet city”

Frédéric Héran came to talk about cycling in Montpellier in September 2018. A few weeks before the first mobilization “I am one of two” (1,200 people), which would mark the beginning of the tremendous mania of the little queen ”. “Montpellier.” The health crisis has accelerated the development of the bicycle, he said. It is a global movement, but especially visible in the countries where the car is developed. It is first with a quiet city where we will develop cycling. If you ride a bike, it’s mostly because it’s good for your health, and then because it’s cheaper. Finally, environmental concerns come much later, “he said.

– Conference-debate on mobility by Frédéric Héran, organized by Vélocité Grand Montpellier. This Friday, May 20, at 6:30 p.m., Maison pour tous Albert-Camus (31 Chartier Street, Lemasson), Rossechi Room.

– Walk: still as part of “Mai à vélo”, Vélocité organizes a 21 km route to Pignan, Saussan, Lavérune and Saint-Jean-de-Védas, this Saturday, May 21, with 80% of tracks or protected roads. . Departure 2.30pm from Ovalie to the rugby stadium court. Accompanied family course and accessible to everyone.

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