Mobilities: “Young rural areas demand a public offer”

Written September 5, 2022, at 07.14

How is the car essential in young people’s mobility?

First of all, rural areas are characterized by a lower population density, around 30 inhabitants per km2 for a large majority of rural communes in France, and by the great distance between the different places. Mobility in rural areas is therefore characterized by this remote location. Young people in rural areas are today very dependent on the car for their trips because there is no public transport policy in these areas.

In fact, they are ordered to be mobile, work in the city, exercise, access healthcare or certain leisure activities without an adapted public transport network. What remains is the car, which, by the way, may be inaccessible to many of them, this young person in the countryside, who often belongs to the social categories of the working class, with few means.

But in 2035, the ban on the sale of new thermal vehicles, to switch to electric models, will only exacerbate this cost problem. It is clear that we will not be able to force these young rural areas to abandon the thermomobile to adopt carbon-free mobility without a public policy on public transport. In any case, I can’t see how young people in the countryside, with the current infrastructure as it is, no longer express the need to use the car.

Why is public transport so underdeveloped in rural areas?

There were many station closures because the railway was not economically viable. But we have to think differently. What we will not spend today, we will spend tomorrow on other items, for example in the form of carbon offsets, tools for adaptation to the climate emergency or climate hazard coverage, especially in harvesting.

Young people in rural areas are highly dependent on the car for their trips because there is no public transport policy in these areas.

Private carpool operators have also invested little in the landscape due to the low density of these spaces. Here, too, the public authorities must intervene. Regular bus routes are often only active from Monday to Friday or limited to high school transport. This is insufficient to ask rural youth to limit their use of the car.

What is the power of public authorities regarding low-carbon mobility in rural areas?

Public authorities must set an example because, contrary to what people think, France is not Paris and the French desert. There are small towns everywhere and a third of the population lives in rural areas. Mobility is therefore a key issue in the development of territories, and young rural areas demand a public offer. The public authorities can rely on France’s railway network, which has entered France for decades and which represents a heritage with great potential.

The state, the regions or the big operators must seize it to develop TER lines. Citizens’ initiatives, such as Railcoop, a railway cooperative located in Figeac in Lot, which seeks to finance a Bordeaux-Lyon line, should be highlighted. Another way is the development of intermodality sites in small or medium-sized cities, and not only in large metropolises.

Rural young people could thus travel the first kilometers by car before reaching intermodal spaces where rail, bus or shared parking spaces are offered. The intermediate municipalities have their role to play by offering, for example, cycle paths. Finally, carbon-free mobility checks can be considered.

*List: Interdisciplinary Solidarity, Societies, Territories Laboratory, Toulouse-Jean Jaurès University Joint Research Unit, CNRS

Rural elected officials under the spell of the shared autonomous vehicle

66% of elected representatives in rural areas believe that autonomous mobility would be a good thing for their area, according to a survey carried out on behalf of Macif with 1,090 local elected representatives in partnership with the Association of Rural Mayors of France (AMRF), published last spring. Autonomous mobility “constitutes a reason for hope to solve mobility problems in the areas and to partially overcome the limits of public transport”, emphasizes Yann Arnaud, director of responses to societal needs and innovation at Macif, and chairman of the board. the community of interest on the “shared” autonomous vehicle launched by the mutual insurance company to promote inclusive mobility, especially in rural and peri-urban areas, within the Movin’On ecosystem in 2019. A community that expanded with the arrival of Beti and Navya for a new trial of automated shuttles in rural areas, carried out in Val-de-Drôme. There will then remain a major hurdle to overcome for the autonomous vehicle in rural areas, namely its large-scale deployment. Which the rural mayors seem to be well aware of, as 77% of them believe that it “will be difficult”. ET-A.

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