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

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

Transport economist and urban planner, Frédéric Héran, is an associate professor at the University of Lille 1 and a researcher. He will be in Montpellier on Friday, May 20 at 18.00 in the Maison pour tous Albert-Camus (Lemasson district) to discuss how we will move tomorrow. An interesting insight at a time when the Métropole de Montpellier is increasing the measures in favor of a peaceful city: the end of transit traffic in the city center, bypasses, public transport developed and gradually made free, bicycle plan …

Why do not you believe in the future of the electric car?

Many people think that the electric car will save the car, but it is a delusion. Because we simply do not want enough materials to build quite a few of them. Cars are always heavier (+ 60% in 50 years) and always more expensive (+ 30% in ten years), just like SUVs that now represent 46%. And electric cars are the most expensive and heaviest. With the decline in purchasing power, used cars represent six out of seven cars sold! More than ever before, public policies are extending the dominance of the car through subsidies to the sector. And even electrically, the car still produces a lot of inconveniences: accidents, space consumption, upstream pollution, waste …

What are the solutions?

We should deal with the problem at the source and first reduce the weight of the cars. But lighter materials, such as aluminum, require much more energy to produce and cost more. The second track is to reduce comfort and speed, but here we touch on hypersensitive things.

How to replace the car, especially for people who do not live in city centers?

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

What are these intermediate cars?

These are vehicles that we did not see ten years ago, such as electric bikes, cargo bikes or recumbent bikes. Or soon electrically assisted tricycles, which are already very common in the Netherlands. They especially allow the elderly to move effortlessly and with guaranteed balance. We can also mention velomobiles, bicycles, carts, minivans. But all this requires safe cycling facilities or peaceful roads.

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

This type of measure is very effective. In 2012, following the closure of the Mathilde de Rouen bridge following an accident, there was a 12% drop in traffic, all modes of transport combined. This means that people have reorganized their movements. And that they have made the traffic simulation models lie, which does not take into account habit changes. These examples of “evaporated traffic” are very numerous. This is an observation, not a theory.

Montpellier gradually switches to free public transport …

Unfortunately, free admission first attracts cyclists and pedestrians, then motorists, without knowing whether they are motorists or passengers, due to the lack of serious study on the subject. We can think, for example, that it is first the middle school or high school student who has to take the free public transport, which will prevent one of his parents from having to take the detour to drop him off. But this one will always run at work! On the other hand, if public transportation fills the car in the public space, it becomes more attractive to motorists. In Nantes, the Busway (bus with a high level of service) occupies the two central lanes of a previously penetrating motorway (A801), which has won many motorists!

Does carpooling and long-distance travel reduce the car’s space?

Very small. Carpooling primarily attracts users of public transport. And teleworking makes it possible to live longer from work or work farther from home and ultimately covers as many distances as before. In the end, road improvements never save time, but always allow us to go further.

Will the space be reduced?

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

“To cycle you need a peaceful city”

consideration Frédéric Héran came to talk about cycling in Montpellier in September 2018. It was a few weeks before the very first mobilization “I am one of two” (1,200 people), which would mark the beginning of the huge craze for the “little queen”. “Montpellier.” The health crisis has accelerated the development of the bicycle, he notes. It is a global movement, but especially visible in the countries where the car is developed. It is only with a peaceful city that we will develop cycling. If you ride a bike, it’s above all because it’s good for your health, and then because it’s more economical. Finally, environmental considerations come much later, “he analyzes.

– Conference debate on mobility by Frédéric Héran, organized by Vélocité Grand Montpellier. This Friday, May 20 at 18.30, Maison pour tous Albert-Camus (31 rue Chartier, in Lemasson), Rossechi room.

– Tour: Still as part of “Mai à vélo”, Vélocité organizes a 21 km tour to Pignan, Saussan, Lavérune and Saint-Jean-de-Védas this Saturday, May 21, with 80% of tracks or protected trails. Departure 14.30 from Ovalie on the rugby stadium’s forecourt. Family course accompanied and accessible to all.

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