October 28, 2020

Mobility after coronavirus, a matter of pockets



A RACE survey indicates that 20% of drivers who use public transport to go to work will opt for the private vehicle after the state of alarm. It is time to “rethink”, say the experts, who refuse to speak of a revolution in mobility. The changes will be limited by the economic crisis.

And what solution is there for that 70 percent of users who have no other mobility solution than public transport? There are many questions to which the experts consulted by Efe try to answer.

The health crisis offers a “historic opportunity” to meditate on the mobility of both cities and rural areas, according to the road safety consultancy PONS, which is committed to promoting the use of bicycles, scooters and motorcycles in the face of the restrictions of travelers on public transport.

Speaking to Efe, PONS adviser Ramón Ledesma believes that this measure would help “pacify” traffic, reduce accidents and reduce pollution.

Another suggestion from the consultant is to limit speed to 50 kilometers per hour on urban roads to accommodate all types of vehicles. Limiting the speed even more would suppose – it maintains – a greater safety for the users of the two wheels against the fear of being run over.

Ledesma highlights that as a result of the adaptation of the labor world to confinement, the option of working from home has come to stay, a reality, he stresses, which returns the focus of interest to “Spain emptied”, where life is “more economical, more rational. “

“The ability to rethink mobility is endless,” said Ledesma, who asked not to forget vulnerable groups on the way, such as children, people with disabilities and the elderly, for whom he proposed “unequal” treatment that would allow “the unequal “not be left out of the changes.

20 percent of drivers who preferred to travel by public transport and 25 percent of those who did so on foot will switch to the private vehicle, according to a survey by RACE, an entity specialized in roadside assistance.

The “clear trend” towards private mobility, says Jorge Castellanos, RACE’s head of Road Safety, must be compensated with more space for pedestrians.

THE CAR, TRANSPORTATION OF “CURRANTS”

Experts predict changes, but meanwhile doubts arise. The director of Road Safety of the MAPFRE Foundation, Jesús Monclús, warns of the move to private mobility: “If we all go to the private vehicle, we will not fit either in the lanes or in the parking lots.”

Monclús only sees the majority use of the car as viable in the first weeks if the option of shared vehicle is promoted on the move.

However, the lack of resources in families due to the economic crisis forces us to reaffirm that, although the car is the most expensive transportation option, it is “a rational necessity” for those who cannot go to an office and have to move to a polygon.

“The car is not a transport for the rich, but for workers,” he highlights.

But with teleworking, the opportunity has come to offer more space for sustainable transport, apparently from Monclús, which is committed to studying the European recommendation to overtake cars parked along the curb on multi-lane streets to the previous one to enable one more to passers-by.

“It is time to rethink,” says Monclús, who immediately wonders, on the one hand, about abandoning the promotion of electric mobility and, on the other, how to manage journeys on foot, bicycle or motorcycle, which In accidents the risk of losing your life or suffering a serious injury multiplies.

For users of public transport without alternatives, he says, one possibility is to make the time of entry to work more flexible to avoid crowds at peak times.

THE SUSTAINABILITY OF PUBLIC TRANSPORT, IN DOUBT

The demand for urban buses, subways, suburban trains or trams, which has fallen by 90 percent since last March 14, will increase, says the secretary general of the Association of Businesses Managers of Urban Collective Transport (ATUC), Jesús Blacksmith.

The coronavirus has disarmed the viability plans of public mobility, aimed at balancing the accounts with the decrease in revenue from the sale of tickets, which accounts for half of the budget, offset by government subsidies.

Blacksmith, who criticizes the suspicion of traveling by public transport caused these weeks by “unnecessary comments”, is “undoubtedly in favor” of the mandatory use of the mask in spaces where, he says, the interaction between people is “very low” in Comparison with the car.

One way to alleviate the reduction in half of the number of places to guarantee social distance as prevention against contagion is “to give as much as possible and increase the frequencies”.

To avoid collapse and pollution, Herrero wants to make clear, “public transportation is absolutely necessary, a city cannot function without it.”

“70 percent of users are captives, they have no other mobility solution. Are older people or a 15-year-old person condemned to not being able to move?” Asks the ATUC leader.

Rafael Barbadillo, president of the Spanish Confederation of Bus Transport (Confebus), is positioned in this line, who sets his sights on an increasingly aging population that needs public transport, “the backbone of mobility.”

Barbadillo hopes to regain normal passenger transport by road not before the end of the year, nor throughout 2021, but in January 2022.

Given the foreseeable blank course of tourism for foreign visitors who had the easiest way to travel the country on the bus, the arrival of summer, according to the head of Confebus, will imply a greater movement of domestic tourism.

VICTIMS: A PROGRESSIVE CHANGE

For traffic victims, confinement has involved an exercise of “quite a lot of responsibility” for the “added problems” of the illnesses caused by the accident, the president of the DIA association, Francisco Canes, told Efe.

Inseparable from his wheelchair, Canes defends the advantages of the private car – “it saves our lives, gives us great freedom, allows us to socialize” – for a person with a disability who can afford it.

He thinks that mobility, which “is not going to change so much all of a sudden”, goes through a “brief parenthesis” that will not be a radical change at all, but will be “progressive, as planned”.

By Sergio Perea

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