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Committed to the sustainable and smart mobility revolution

Posted: 10 April 2017 | Alain Vidalies, Minister of State for Transport, Marine Affairs and Fisheries for France | No comments yet

Across the transport industry, the need for technologically innovate modes of transport and a sustainable infrastructure that benefits not only its passengers, but the environment too, has long been clear. In this article for Intelligent Transport, Alain Vidalies, Minister of State for Transport, Marine Affairs and Fisheries for France, explains how the country is ready and eager to meet this ideal, and is already taking steps to achieve it.

Committed to the sustainable and smart mobility revolution

Mobility is at the core of everyday life, connecting people and markets, and creating bonds between countries or cultures and so plays a key role in fast-changing environmental issues. As the transport sector accounts for approximately 23% of the total man-made CO2 emissions, there is a strong and urgent need to invent and implement new solutions that enable the development of a sustainable transportation system that still fulfills growing mobility needs.

Many projects are already underway in France that focus on smart transportation devices, autonomous and electric vehicles, and our country has now become Europe’s largest market for electric vehicles. The government has deployed strong incentives to encourage the purchase of electric or hybrid vehicles, with fiscal incentives offered to companies developing such fleets. Our ambition is clear: we want 15% of vehicle travel to be made by 100% green or renewable energy engines by 2030. France has just reached the milestone of 100,000 100% electric cars on the market, and the market trend continues to be positive. Strong measures have also been taken to develop the recharging infrastructure for those vehicles. Several main French cities have also implemented electric vehicle sharing services, such as ‘Autolib’ in Paris, ‘Sunmoove’ in Lyon and ‘Bluecub’ in Bordeaux, which I consider to be an excellent way to promote these new vehicles and integrate them into the urban landscape.

France also wants to play a leading role in advancing the development of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). I’m proud to have hosted the World Congress on ITS held in Bordeaux in October 2015, where many countries from all over the world signed a manifesto that championed these innovative solutions and acknowledging its benefits for sustainable mobility. Through this statement we highlighted how ITS can improve air pollution in our cities by strengthening the networks, encouraging eco-driving and the shift towards more collective public transport and lower-carbon modes. ITS can also be used as an efficient way to reduce congestion and increase safety. Through these new mobility services, we can also generate important volumes of data that can help to improve statistics and predict trends. At last, ITS can provide users with personalised solutions that enable them to become partners in new intelligent mobility policies based on high privacy and reliable services.

ITS also represents a fast growing sector that covers a wide range of skills and knowledge (technology, management, finance, planning, R&D, sociology, economics, law) and provides an innovative motor for our economies that helps to drive competitiveness in global markets. It is a strong asset, which demonstrates the need to fully commit to such a change. ITS in France already represents €4.5 billion – around 45,000 jobs – in more than a thousand companies.

Recent years have witnessed some crucial developments in autonomous vehicles in our country. In August 2016 the council of ministers adopted an amendment allowing experiments of autonomous vehicles on the open road. It represents a huge step toward the mobility of tomorrow, for regulated and secure traffic, and transport that is both more efficient and more environmentally-friendly. It also aims to see the French automotive industry and road transport as one of the pioneers in the design of autonomous vehicles for all.

Paris has also proved its strong commitment to this innovation. January 2017 saw the start of its first experiment using driverless buses on a bridge connecting two major railway stations, using a combination of lasers and cameras to detect other objects and people around them. This test will last three months, and is considered as the first stage of Paris’ self-driving revolution.

Such change also relies on international cooperation in order to develop and implement an efficient smart mobility system. For this reason France and Germany have just joined together to test selfdriving vehicles on a section of road that links the two countries, in order to test the travelling experience in real cross-border traffic. Professionals there will be able to test their technologies in real situations, for example mitigating speed limit changes at the border. This route will stretch around 70km from Merzig to Metz. The decision to launch such an experiment marks a key moment in the cooperation between our country and Germany on this subject.

These few cases reflect France’s desire for a sustainable transportation system based on innovation. There is a growing need for consistent and simple solutions for citizens. Improving the quality of transportation is deeply linked to the development of smart mobility solutions. I strongly believe that mobility and environment must develop together in order to establish a strong, sustainable transportation system that benefits everyone. It needs the full support of all key players and users to enable it to become the new face of our everyday mobility. France is ready! 

Biography

Alain Vidalies has been Minister of State for Transport, Marine Affairs and Fisheries for France since August 2014, attached to the Minister of the Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs. From May 2012 to April 2014 he served as Minister of State for Relations with Parliament, attached to the Prime Minister. Since 1988 he has also been a member of the National Assembly, representing the Landes department.

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