MELBOURNE, Australia: 68 per cent of Australians urgently want to reduce emissions from road traffic. 64 percent believe noise, air pollution and other burdens are responsible for health problems– these are findings of the representative survey “Kapsch TrafficCom Index 2020”. New concepts such as the “15-minute City” in Paris point the way to prolonging people's experiences with cleaner air and less traffic in post-corona times.
The negative effects of road traffic have returned very quickly to the political agenda after the lockdown during the corona crisis. The common approach in Australia is on zero-emission public transport and the creation of urban congestion zones. In Europe, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo is pursuing nothing less than an urban planning revolution with her concept of the "15-minute City": Parisians should be able to reach everything they need for life from their doorstep within fifteen minutes on foot or by bike: grocery stores, health centers, schools, parks and workplaces. To make this possible, Hidalgo’s first step was to block central traffic routes for cars and convert them into bicycle expressways.
What we learn from Paris
“Paris was quick to react to the pandemic, minimising the impact of COVID-19 with a new mobility concept that made social distancing easier,” says Matthew McLeish, Executive Vice President Asia-Pacific at Kapsch TrafficCom. “While many cornerstones of the 15-minute City concept are basically correct, it is also a very long-term approach. But as our survey shows, we need quick wins to keep traffic-related emissions at the current levels, and to reduce them even further in the future. We can offer intelligent transportation systems today to reduce congestion. These solutions not only allow for immediate improvements. They also lay the basis for flexible and sustainable long-term changes.”
The goal of clearing the streets for bicycles and pedestrians is pursued by many future-oriented cities around the world. “But you do not achieve a significant impact by only shifting the traffic to other districts of the city. Cities need to adopt a holistic approach,” explains Matthew McLeish. That is why he recommends introducing a digitally connected mobility management platform. This includes, for example, traffic light control systems that automatically adapt to the current traffic situation. This would reduce congestion times in cities by up to 25 percent.