CE22 - Sociétés urbaines, territoires, constructions et mobilité

Urban planning, urban space and mobility practices with low environmental impact – URFE

ANR URFE: Urban development and mobility with low environmental impact

The URFé project deals with light individual modes of transport in a context marked by the strong development of their use, particularly in the central sectors of conurbations. The consortium is examining the conditions for the development of these practices, which seem to be marked by new forms of accident, insufficient adaptation of the developed space to the characteristics of these modes and their uses, and a need for regulations.

Challenges and objectives:To contribute to a better understanding of the challenges and obstacles to the development of light individual mobility in relation to urban planning

The difficulty of changing the mobility system to drastically reduce its environmental impact is one of today's unresolved problems. The development of public transport (PT) and its coupling with urban planning alone cannot meet this challenge. Given the difficulties that public transport has in meeting certain mobility needs, some authors are calling for a rethink of individual modes of transport, and for studies into the potential development of small, low-cost urban vehicles with reduced mass and little or no carbon emissions. In this context, we are also seeing the development of what can be called individual modes of transport with a low environmental impact, i.e. (apart from walking) modes using light, non-motorised or low-power electrically-powered vehicles: bicycles, electrically-assisted bicycles (EABs), electric scooters and other personal mobility devices. Because of their electric assistance, which encourages longer journeys by bicycle, and the fact that these modes can easily be loaded into a public transport vehicle or a car, they can play a role in metropolitan mobility, at the end or the start of an intermodal journey, or even compete with public transport in urban or suburban areas.<br />This development is partly encouraged by public policy - as far as cycles are concerned - and partly results from the emergence of a market (electric scooters) and new services developed by private operators (free floatting). While this is only one of a number of ways of reducing the environmental impact of mobility, the development of these modes of transport is a fact, and a study of the conditions and potential for this development is still necessary. However, there appear to be a number of obstacles.<br />- persistent safety problems and new forms of accident, affecting vulnerable users who are not protected by a passenger compartment,<br />- the unsuitability of public spaces and regional planning for the characteristics of these modes of transport and the expectations and aspirations of their many users, <br />- public action which, while seeking to encourage alternative mobility options to the car, has to deal with the rapid and sometimes unanticipated upheavals brought about by these emerging practices and their new players. <br />By addressing these different aspects, the ANR URFé project aims to clarify the uses, development conditions and potential of light individual mobility.

Firstly, we are interested in the individual people who use light modes of transport, their practices, their representations and also their aspirations. We then look at the area's 'reception potential', a concept borrowed from V. Kaufmann, in terms of public spaces, transport networks and systems, and spatial ergonomics (the accessibility of resources and different parts of the area to users switching to these modes of transport). Finally, we are interested in the role that collective public players can play in influencing this reception potential, with a view to making the area more hospitable to the practices, lifestyles, expectations and aspirations of its residents, thereby promoting the contribution of these forms of mobility to more sustainable development.
The angle through which the ANR URFé project approaches light individual mobility is that of the hospitality of urban space and its development. The aim is to study this mobility from the angle of the 'welcoming potential' of developed space, spatial ergonomics, and the ability of development logic to take account of the practices, needs and aspirations of users of these modes of transport. The general hypothesis is that the various obstacles mentioned above reflect a gap between the reality of the practices and needs of users of this light mobility, and the logic of spatial planning.
The work carried out focuses on the metropolitan areas of Aix-Marseille-Provence, Greater Lyon, the Strasbourg Eurometropolis and the Lausanne conurbation. Working on the scale of these areas not only enables us to cover a wide range of environments and facilities, from dense urban fabrics to suburban and peri-urban areas, but also to examine the networked nature of facilities designed to accommodate light individual mobility. These areas are also unique in that they are not at the same stage in the development of this mobility and in the way it is taken into account in the planning of traffic areas.
The members of the team come from the scientific fields of Accidentology, Geography, Urban Planning, Political Science, Law and Economics. This multi-disciplinary approach allows for a systemic analysis of the different aspects of the analysis: the difficulties of use surrounding the practices, the 'reception potential' of the developed space and the logic of public action in favour of these mobilities.
In addition, the project includes collaboration with the urban planning agencies in the study areas, UrbaLyon, AGAM and ADEUS. The aim is to ensure that the issues raised by the emergence of these new mobility practices are better taken into account on the ground, and to ensure that the project's scientific findings are transferred to action.

Combining qualitative and quantitative surveys, the first part of the project documents actual practices. It is based both on the production of new data (comprehensive surveys conducted among users in the study areas) and on the re-use of national and local mobility surveys. The aim is to provide better documentation of the reasons for using light individual modes of transport and the safety problems associated with their use. On the latter point, the aim is to clarify the safety issues associated with the development of light individual modes of transport. The cross-referencing of mobility data and accident data will also provide a clearer picture of the risks involved, in particular according to different layout configurations and with or without cycle facilities.
The second part will enable us to test the hypothesis that there is a gap between the practices and needs of users of light individual modes of transport and the way in which urban spaces are developed. The aim is to provide information on the quality of urban spaces (in technical, material, functional and atmospheric terms) and their suitability for the use of light individual modes of transport. Observations of the configurations and practices of developed spaces carried out in situ aim to highlight difficulties of use, situations of conflict and types of unsuitability of the space. This empirical observation is also concerned with continuity: continuity of cycle routes, but also continuity of a journey through all the components of the mobility chain. In the same vein, the aim here is also to look at the neighbourhood or conurbation as a whole, to analyse the suitability of the space for the lives of its residents, and in particular their mobility needs for all the activities of daily life (commuting, shopping, services, education, leisure, etc.).
The third part of the project will provide knowledge on the design processes for public space redevelopment projects, in order to identify the technical doctrines used, the objectives sought by the various players involved in these transformations, and the way in which development options are discussed and implemented. More generally, knowledge will be gained about the place given to light individual mobility in the local policies of the metropolises and conurbations studied. The aim of this third section is therefore to identify, in the definition of public development action, the various factors that may be at the root of malfunctions and difficulties in the use of developed areas, as well as the obstacles and potential for better adaptation of these areas to modes of transport with low environmental impact.

To help local authorities implement policies that will increase the contribution of these modes to a safe and sustainable mobility system.

The results will be disseminated to the scientific community and to stakeholders in urban production and mobility policies (transfer to local and regional authorities). As far as the scientific community is concerned, the results will be disseminated in the traditional way, via A-rank scientific articles and international and national conferences. The targeted journals are in the fields of transport (Transportation Research; Journal of Transport and Health, Accident Analysis and Prevention), urban planning (Flux, Journal of Urban Design, disP-The Planning Review, RIURBA), geography (Cybergéo-European Journal of Geography, Revue Internationale de Géomatique), urban studies (Métropoles) and the environment (VertigO).
For the transfer of knowledge to action (elected representatives, technicians, consultancies working on urban planning and mobility), collaboration with the network of Urban Planning Agencies and the participation of CEREMA in the project will ensure greater success in terms of appropriation and dissemination.

This project deals with the hospitality of urban areas and urban spaces towards new forms of mobility related to the development of travel modes with low environmental impact (bicycles, pedelecs, electric scooters...). This development faces various obstacles: persistent safety problems, the inadequacy of the devices intended for these modes in the field of urban planning and design, the difficulties that the public sector has to adapt to the rapid changes related to the emergence of new technical objects and the increasing role of private operators. This project aims to better understand these obstacles and the means to overcome them, through field studies, in-depth analysis of accidents, in-depth user surveys (on their practices, needs and aspirations) and surveys of stakeholders involved in urban planning and design, within the framework of spatialized analyzes giving a large place to the specificities of the studied areas (the regions of Marseille, Lyon, Strasbourg, and Lausanne).

We hypothesize that these various obstacles reflect a gap between the actual development of the practices and needs of the users of this light individual mobility and the way in which public actors plan the territory. In this project, we will first focus on the individual actors moving towards light modes of transport with low environmental impact, on their practices, their representations, but also on their aspirations (workpackage 1). We will then look at the territory's potential for welcoming people, particularly in terms of public space, transport networks and systems, intermodality, spatial ergonomics and the accessibility of resources and different parts of the territory, in relation to the practices and aspirations of the inhabitants moving towards these modes of transport (workpackage 2). Finally, we are interested in the role that collective public actors can play in influencing this potential for reception, in the direction of a more hospitable urban area with regard to the practices, lifestyles, expectations and aspirations of these inhabitants, thus promoting the contribution of these forms of mobility to more sustainable development (workpackage 3).

As regards the choice of study sites, the work carried out as part of the project will cover the urban areas of Aix-Marseille, Lyon and Strasbourg and the Lausanne conurbation. Working on the scale of these territories will not only make it possible to cover a wide variety of environments and developments, ranging from dense urban fabrics to suburban and peri-urban spaces, but also to question the reticular nature of the developments that are supposed to accommodate light individual mobility. Moreover, these areas have the particularity of not being at the same stage in the development of this mobility and in the way it is taken into account in the development of circulation spaces.

The consortium formed is multidisciplinary. Indeed, this project mobilizes partners recognized in the analysis of mobility practices, travel activity and its accidentality (TS2-LMA, IGD, CEREMA), spatial dynamics and accessibility problems (IDEES-Caen and LIVE, which together developed the methods of spatial ergonomics), and the multiple dimensions of the action on the "urban factory" (LIEU). These different partners will be particularly involved in the implementation of the various workpackages and tasks.

Project coordination

Frédérique Hernandez (Département Transport, santé, sécurité)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


TS2 Département Transport, santé, sécurité
ESPRIM Perturbations et la Résilience des systèmes de Mobilité
LIVE Laboratoire Image, Ville, Environnement
UNIL Université de Lausanne UNIL / Institut de Géographie et Durabilité IGD

Help of the ANR 410,236 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: - 42 Months

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