The transport strike at the end of 2019 led to the emergence of alternatives to the car and the usual means of transport, and initiatives are multiplying to ensure that people can travel from home to work. This strike allows us to question our resilience in the face of the transport stoppage and to bring out new low-carbon solutions, which ones?
According to the 2018 study by the Mobility Observatory, 70% of French people living in urban areas, with more than 50,000 inhabitants, regularly use public transport (buses, TER, metro, tramway and RER). Only 14% of users use public transport for environmental reasons (7% in 2015) compared to 46% for practical reasons (paid parking, traffic jams, etc.).
In addition, the study shows that 81% of travelers who changed modes of travel due to strikes did so on an ad hoc basis (compared to 84% in 2017) and 19% on a sustainable basis (compared to 16% in 2016). Among the latter, who change their means of transport permanently following this type of difficult episode, it is often walking that is adopted after having tested it in the absence of means of transport (54%).
Alternatives for transport: long distance or last kilometre?
Dealing with a public transport stop is not the same whether you are in a large urban area or in a rural area.
When the number of kilometres to be covered exceeds the distance of a daily walk or bike ride, other solutions emerge: take a car that is often left in the garage, bus, carpooling, car-sharing or even free-floating (scooters, bicycles and scooters). All these solutions have their advantages and opportunities according to our needs and especially according to our possibilities. Indeed, inequalities between cities, close suburbs and the greater suburbs are all the more evident in these situations.
Finally, walking and cycling remain the undeniable sure values for people living in the city centre! For some, stopping public transport is even an opportunity to get back into sport by jogging to the office or cycling for miles. It is also an opportunity to rediscover your city, to walk in unknown neighbourhoods, to cross new parks and green spaces, etc.
Another means of transport that we think less of is the bato-bus, which is very practical in Paris, think about it!
Alternatives for work: a screen, a chair and an internet connection?
If transport modalities change, the way of working changes as well and new alternatives exist.
Telework has recently become a part of company agreements, and has become a standard practice and undeniably appears to be a solution during periods of transport stoppage.
But beyond teleworking at home alone, coworking spaces or “third places” halfway between home and work are now well established solutions in our cities that limit our travel. We even see coworking offers allowing you to work in different spaces belonging to the same operator (see interview with the founder of Patchwork – link to put) and thus to go to the one closest to your home or to the appointments scheduled during the day.
We regularly refer to “Office As A Service” in reference to digital models of “Software As A Service” or SaaS (Software as a Service). The idea is no longer to offer fixed office space but to offer the possibility of working according to one’s needs and location. The primary objective of this type of offer is to adapt to the changing needs of companies over time, but it is also an opportunity to respond to mobility issues in the event of public transport stops.
As A Service Housing: an option to study?
And if some people are unable to find offices close to their homes, why not think about solutions to provide housing close to their offices? In the same spirit as the “Office as a Service”, “Housing as a Service” would allow users to have housing adapted to the different stages of a household’s life (celibacy, couple life, children, children’s departure, separations, etc.). This reflection, which is increasingly present today due to the constant changes in households, could also be a solution in the event of transport stoppages by allowing users to have housing close to their offices for specific periods of time.
We also see that many workers are looking for emergency accommodation solutions to avoid transport during strikes (reception by other employees, Airbnb, hotel, etc.)
Thus the reflections are no longer focused on the real estate as such but on its use. Today and especially tomorrow, a building could be a place of work, a place of life or both at the same time, on the same floor, in the same room thanks to some ingenious arrangements.
In times of strike and transport stoppages, all these alternative solutions also make it possible to fight against transport saturation and meteorological hazards. All these are opportunities to use them over the long term and to anchor them in our habits to reduce our environmental footprint.
 Observatoire de la mobilité 2018, Union des Transports Publics et Ferroviaires, https://bit.ly/35BfaCC
Article researched and written by the Green Soluce team for Urban Chronicles™
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