the United Colours of Africa

Paris : urban mobility


Ross Douglas moved to France at the end of 2014, with the intention of building a powerful independent platform to accelerate the transition to a sustainable urban mobility. Whilst producing the Johannesburg Art, Food Wine and Design and Bicycle Fairs, Douglas took a number of business trips to Lagos, Delhi, Copenhagen, Berlin and other cities. Both as a keen cyclist and concerned citizen he developed a fascination for clean urban mobility that could have a long term effect on reducing global warming.

Douglas chose Paris to start this business for a number of reasons. One the political will of current mayor Anne Hidalgo is one of transformation in the mobility sector. She is the president of the C40 Climate Leadership Group and since her inauguration has created an inititiave for pedestrians - the ‘Rives de Seine' park, a 10 hectare space along the banks of the river Seine dedicated to relaxation and sporting activities.

Two, Paris is a capital of transport with the highest concentration of mobility firms, giants of the transport industry including SNCF, the RATP, Transdev, Alstom and Airbus.

Mobility in Paris is already well thought with the Institute for Transport and Development Policy ensuring that 100 per cent of the population is located less than one kilometer from a station. Paris has an impressive diversity of transport with 303 metro stations, five lines of RER, trains, buses, trams, shuttle service, as well as systems for sharing of bicycles (Vélib'), cars (Autolib', ZIPCAR), and scooters (Cityscoot). This system will be further improved through the installation of the large Paris Express and new metro lines.

However with Paris in the running to host the 2024 Olympic Games, all possibilities must be looked at. The objective is that 85 per cent of athletes are less than 30 minutes from the stadiums, and that 100% of the spectators move in public or shared transport.

COP21 Paris Climate Conference of 2015 was to create a universal agreement on keeping global warming below 2°C.

The victory of Macron has had an impact on sustainable mobility. Douglas said, “ Their aim is to position France as a world leader in green tech and to welcome scientists and entrepreneurs from all over the world.”

50% of the world population lives in towns, and the number of urban dwellers is expected to double again in the next 20 years. Douglas says, “Our common enemy is the emission of carbon dioxide due to the unnecessary combustion of fossil fuels.”

Rethinking urban travel will improve the quality of life through reduction of pollution, congestion, noise and travel time. The intelligent transportation is expected to increase by 25% and be worth $220 billion in 2021.

For the second edition, the Autonomy team are working more to connect large businesses, innovators, policy makers and public authorities.

The autonomy team consist of 15 Parisians operating out of an office on the 10th arrondissement of Paris, close to the East station, a perfect location to become a "hub of the new mobility."

Interview Ross Douglas

I got interested in urban mobility when I was working in Lagos, Delhi and going to places like Copenhagen and Berlin and I could see the extremes of mobility in different cities. And at the time the big focus was on motor cars in cities. And I could see that that was going to change with different options like bike sharing, bike lanes and I could see there was going to be a big disruption in mobility and I wanted to create a platform where people could come and collaborate, particularly policy makers and innovators.

We do three things at autonomy; we do talks in a conference, then we have an expo, where people exhibit their products and services, and then we have a test track where you can test autonomous vehicles, test ride bicycles and other new mobility devices. What we like to do at autonomy is give a platform for powerful policy makers for example the head of the European Parliament for Transport Karima Delly will be opening autonomy again, where they can talk with the big innovators, the big car companies, so that they communicate what cities want and what innovators are capable of making – so they start building a future collectively instead of car makers making a solution that cities don't want or cities wanting a solution that the industry is not able to make – so to try and coordinate both the efforts.

This year is the second year and we are expecting 350 exhibitors in a 20 000 M2 venue, 10 000 visitors, 100 speakers, a lot of politicians, cities, big car companies, innovators and diverse players at autonomy.

Urban mobility is the term people use for moving around a city, so urban mobility now has come to mean ways of moving around cities that exclude single car ownership and single car driving. Urban mobility is multi mobility – walking, cycling, bike share, car share and in the future autonomous vehicles, public transport. When you have good urban mobility you move very quickly around a city without ever having to look for parking or to own a car. You have a diverse choice of options – a big selection and you can seamlessly move from one device to the other.

We are the biggest single event that focuses on urban mobility. There are lots of car shows and public transport shows. We mix all the forms of urban mobility together – bikes, cars, walking, public transport and autonomous vehicles. What we want to do is create this collaborative space where policy makers can understand that to improve the mobility in cities they don't necessarily have to put in big infrastructure like trains and metros and busses, because they can at a low cost put in a car sharing solution.

Africa has a massive amount of urbanisation and their cities don't have the budget to put in heavy infrastructure so they would benefit from things like car sharing systems where the city doesn't have to pay for it. Car sharing companies deploy a fleet of vehicles which now because they share get a higher use, you don't have to have so many parking bays. Our big focus is to end the reliance on your own car for transport.

The future for cities would be electric mobility so all vehicles will become electric, be shared, no one would drive their own. All vehicles would be connected and increasingly autonomous and that is where cities will go – they will have collective, shared, autonomous vehicles, therefore low pollution, low congestion, reduced carbon emissions, reduced noise pollution – a lot more space on the streets because less parking needed. It will be a completely transformed city. If you look at Paris there are 150 000 parked cars that do nothing but lock up valuable space on the street. Pedestrians have a tiny space because all this space is blocked by cars waiting for their owners who use them for 2% of the time. This is all going to change with new mobility.

We look at urban logistics: 30% of the transport in cities is moving goods and not people and the same things apply – electric, autonomous, on demand solutions. Some will be robotics that will deliver things.


Details: Autonomy has a partnership with the City of Paris, Polis Network, ICLEI, UITP and a number of major European Cities. The event takes place annually at La Villette in Paris in October. content portal : quote the source © 2013 Struan Douglas of AFRIBEAT.COM
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