Let’s liberate the territories by liberating mobility

Posted on January 11, 2023


In an article dating back to July 2020, “Tour de France of real estate: discovery of an ecomuseum”, I had related the impressive propensity of rural municipalities, or peripheral territories, to invest in anti-mobility works of art as unsightly as expensive.

This propensity did not stop more than two years later, but it adapted to a new situation: the contraction of endowments ofState and lower revenue from local taxes. Proof that the evil is deep and translates a real éleutherophobia, or aversion for the freedom, among our elected officials.

France demobilized

Indeed, where the most bizarre devices – and sometimes the most dangerous – for road users multiplied in order to make them regret crossing their locality (traffic lights, chicanes, speed bumps, separators, narrowers), now the time is at savings (which will not prevent the painful passage of the repair of the aforementioned works of art, budgetary charge often forgotten or reduced by the local elected officials).

As we always have to expect the worst with the decay of our societies, the city ​​councilors have found a brand new solution: draw stop signs, even in the middle of the main street. A troubling measure that immediately poses four major flaws:

  1. Noise pollution
  2. Atmospheric pollution
  3. Increase in dwell time
  4. Energy increase

The reason is that stopping and then restarting the thermal vehicle, and even the electric one, requires energy to move it. However, the biggest energy cost is that of starting, or restarting, much more than that of prolonging the movement already initiated. Indeed, the entire mass of the inert vehicle must be moved whereas when it is already in motion the consumption is stabilized, i.e. less (let us specify in the case of normalized driving, without jolts) . Common sense – and even more physico-chemical rules – would prevail to promote the fluidification of flows.

On our current vehicles, again thermal and electric, it is very easy to have an overview of this overconsumption on the control screen. This device aimed at braking the vehicle is therefore particularly unwelcome from an energy consumption point of view but tends, alas, to rapidly proliferate. Worse, it is even used in completely grotesque situations, such as the installation of this signaling in the middle of a climb: it is easy to understand that the energy overconsumption is increased tenfold as the effort to be provided by the vehicle is more substantial than on a flat road … except for the decision-maker of such a measure.

In terms of noise pollution, however reduced with electromobiles, it is just as logical that the noise is accentuated by the restart effect instead of a brief sound passage. In terms of atmospheric pollution, we know from various studies that the discharge of pollutants is mainly carried out by mechanical abrasion and no longer by the discharge of exhausts. However, when the physical constraint of the ground connections is greater for the need for thrust, it is also logical that the emissions soar.

For the passage time, this responds to another obvious fact: when you have a section of a village crossing of 3 kilometers and that his chosen one passes this axis from 50 to 30 km/h, this means that instead of putting 3 minutes and 36 seconds to go through it, you will need 6 minutes! So imagine with one, two, three stops plus a 30 km/h limit (which is not a case study unfortunately), you explode the lap times… in the other direction.

An absurd demobilization policy that proliferates

This policy is an aberration for these communities which, strangely, continually complain about the lack of attractiveness of their territory.

But how can we make attractive territories where we are forced to drive at the same speed as over a hundred years ago!? How can these elected officials be so disconnected from the realities of employment where users think more in terms of transport time than in terms of distance? While the crossing of a municipality which would take 40% of additional time, at the very least (that is to say only with the passage from 50 to 30 km/h) penalizes travel, that is to say the economy and employment: any crossing becomes difficult for those forced to use individual or collective transport, not to mention the inconvenience caused to local residents who are sometimes faced with a fait accompli.

Shame on these local elected officials who dot their municipality with expensive and above all dangerous works and who are ready to risk the integrity of users transiting through their municipality, not to mention the accelerated deterioration of the mechanics of their vehicles and the inherent energy overconsumption. One no longer crosses a village or a town these days: one overcomes a series of obstacles.

I repeat: how can so many elected officials come to make such decisions? Is it by constraint, by mimicry, by clientelism, by ideology?

As for the urban municipalities, they continue in their own way to promote their policy of stigmatization and exclusion with many new video-verbalization devices and latest-generation automatic radars. Especially since theterritorial extension of EPZs (Low Emission Zones) is recorded and established as firmly as the most fanatical religious dogmas.

And for 2023, we are promised an abundance of technological means to enforce the rules of the Highway Code, the environment and certainly soon society. Because when a delirium has taken a way of acceleration in the minds, it is very complicated to stop it until its sudden exit from the road. And this is unfortunately what will happen in France as in any country that chooses the option of restricting freedoms.

Electromobility will not give us back our freedom of movement

Who remembers that the first measures to limit motorways were decided in 1973, the year of the oil shock, on a purely economic and not environmental or security basis? Measures which had otherwise been announced as temporary. In 2023, fifty years later, we are still there and the electrification of mobility will not change anything.

Moreover, on this point, which is that of electromobility, it will be noted that the reduction in speed on the main roads is now acted on an environmental basis but that electromobiles remain subject to the same rule whereas – theoretically – they should benefit from an exemption from limitation because of their – theoretical – absence of emissions. Once again, the arrogance of environmental measures is laid bare.

A quick aside on the belief, reinforced by political claims, that electromobiles are totally zero emissions. However, the English analysis company Emissions Analytics warned in 2022 of the risks of overproduction of fine particle emissions by electric vehicles due to the phenomenon of mechanical abrasion amplified by the weight and torque of this type of motorization. The regenerative system supported by very measured driving makes it possible to limit this risk but the fact remains that the weight of electric vehicles is constantly increasing, hence inexorably a phenomenon of mechanical abrasion as long as there are connections on the ground.

“Quite remarkably, but as testament to the filtration efficiency of the latest gasoline particulate filters (GPFs), tailpipe mass emissions are now as low as 0.02 mg/km. Gasoline vehicles were tested as they represent the majority of new passenger cars sold today. Therefore, the mass wear from new tires is 16 times greater than the maximum permitted from the tailpipe, but 3,650 times greater than actual tailpipe emissions. Taking the full-life average tire emissions, that premium falls to the 1,850 times mentioned earlier. The excess emissions under aggressive driving should alert us to a risk with BEVs: greater mass and torque delivered vehicle can lead to rapidly increasing tire particulate emissions. Half a ton of battery weight can result in tire emissions that are almost 400 more times greater than real-world tailpipe emissions, everything else being equal.” .

The fact remains that electromobiles must remain a technological choice for engineers and manufacturers and not an obligation: here again, betting everything on electric vehicles is nonsense since we are making the same strategic mistakes as for diesel by betting everything on one technology by excluding the others. This purely binary choice says a lot about the state of mind of leaders incapable of flexibility of mind and scientific approach. Electromobiles all have their place in the large mobility family, but not to the artificial detriment of all the others.

Either way, electromobility or not, demobilization measures will continue to proliferate.

Diffuse political thought tending towards demobilization

To come back to the fundamental problem, it is a movement of diffuse political thought (it is not a formalized doctrine) but nevertheless very deep which irrigates to the most remote town halls of France and the European countries of the West (I specify wisely as the difference is clear with the countries of Eastern Europe). This movement of thought, that of demobility, has immobility as its point of departure. It is initiated by certain actors (the European Union and the metropolises) to plague the whole last stage of the communities, that is to say the most numerous, namely the municipalities. And we are now experiencing it daily at the cost of economic neurasthenia and social precariousness.

And let us add that the road sector is not the only one targeted. It is all transport that is targeted by restrictive measures (physical, administrative and fiscal) so that in the long term, these become the prerogative only of the privileged, very largely from metropolitan areas.

All in all, the “winners” of an illiberal globalization enthroned on the remnants of zombified freedomsthe latter erected as totems that the enslaved peoples will continue to venerate by constraint, or even by simple habit.

I have only one solution to put forward: let’s liberate the territories by liberating mobility. Because beyond mobility, a whole ecosystem will learn to breathe again.

Let’s liberate the territories by liberating mobility