Cities planning for a low-emission future

With countries around the world looking to support the uptake of zero-emission transport options as a way of reducing emissions, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided a glimpse into how fewer internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles on the roads could look for air and noise pollution levels.

With fewer vehicles on the roads due to social distancing and travel restrictions causing more businesses to adopt work from home solutions, many densely populated cities are experiencing significant drops in air pollution and road congestion.

This has led to cities re-thinking plans for future layouts and questioning how to reduce the number of ICE vehicles on the road long-term, with the mayor of Paris, France, Anne Hidalgo leading the way after revealing her future plan for a ’15-minute city’.

Under the 15-minute city concept, all citizens of Paris would live within 15 minutes by foot or bike from all essential products and services they require, such as medical services, supermarkets, schools and work.

Achieving this goal would result in a large number of vehicles being taken off the roads as citizens swap driving for walking or riding, reducing the amount of emissions generated in cities, diminishing air pollution in heavily driven areas and potentially leading to a better quality of life for citizens.

However, such a plan is resource intensive, requiring the construction of new schools, shopping centres and hospitals, and also relies on the city of Paris’ ability to de-incentivise driving in favour of other transport options.

Putting her plan into action, Hidalgo has already begun to close central traffic routes for cars, turning them into bikeways during the pandemic to give workers safer bike routes to work.

Another potential solution to reducing congestion in cities has come from Kapsch TrafficCom, who believes that while the idea of a 15-minute city is a solution in the long-term, more needs to be done immediately to reduce traffic.

“But as our survey shows, we need quicker wins to keep traffic-related emissions at the current levels, and o reduce them even further in the future,” said Kapsch TrafficCom Asia-Pacific executive vice-president Matthew McLeish.

“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.”

Kapsch TrafficCom has suggested introducing traffic light control systems that are updated in real-time to increase the flow of traffic in heavily built-up areas, which can reduce road congestion by as much as 25 per cent in major cities.

EVtalk | Could a ’15-minute City’ apply here?

26 October 2020

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