The automobile civilization 
and the challenge of sustainable development

Trucking and economic development: An inexorable necessity ?

Maurice Bernadet

The “everything-by-road” policy is arousing ever stiffer opposition. Several proposals are being made for reducing trucking and developing alternative transports. A rigorous analysis forces us to admit, however, that the growth of road transportation in all developed European countries is so linked to structural factors in our systems of production and distribution that disconnecting development from road transportation implies long-term commitments, very likely costly ones, since they run counter to spontaneous tendencies.

The right to a ride: What is the current state of affairs ?

Bernard Duhem and Patrice Aubertel

For a long time in France, talk about transporting persons with low incomes almost systematically implied a public means of conveyance. Public transportation and private automobiles now turn out to be complementary means to be used together. Does the automobile guarantee freedom ? Yes, as a choice. But there are those who can choose… and the others. The car also takes captives. A few lessons are drawn from the research program “Déplacements et Inégalités” Puca/Predit 1999-2002.

Traffic accidents worldwide and their impact

Jean Chapelon

By extrapolating from data, the number of persons killed per year in traffic accidents around the world is estimated at about 540.000. Although we can expect the situation to worsen in developing countries, we might imagine, despite the controversy aroused by this, that wealthy lands will make progress for a long time owing to automatic reflexes. A goal for the coming years is, thanks to fuller systems of information about the causes and medical effects of accidents, to improve knowledge of what makes road transportation unsafe.

Are there saturation points in transporting persons ?

Francis Papon and Jean-Loup Madre

People are moving more and more as the economy grows. We travel more kilometers per unit of time, and daily activities are ever farther from our homes. Faster transportation, in particular via private automobiles, is, unfortunately, harmful and not very compatible with sustainable development. Do economic, spatial, demographic, social or cultural factors limit this growing mobility and the operation of transportation systems ?

Long-term trends, consequences and possible modifications in road traffic

Jean Delsey

The performance and comfort of automobiles have been much improved; and they consume fuel more economically. Are these factors along with a slowly but regularly rising living standard, which enables people to own vehicles, not the real cause of more traffic on the road ? To curb this increase, the technology of vehicles will have to change. More importantly, regulations on motor vehicles and concerning town and country planning should also be implemented.

Transportation and sustainable development: Toward innovative policies in urban areas

Michel Rousselot

The major issues in sustainable development represent challenges for persons in charge of transportation policy. In urban zones, the dispersion of residences and consequent demand for mobility are ever more out of line with the determination to limit pollution, congestion and the emission of greenhouse gases. Resolutely innovative policies raise questions about transportation’s long-term prospects and even about life-styles, whence the need for a public debate that takes into account these innovative visions of the city of the future. How to conduct such a debate ?

Futures trends in automobile motor systems

Philippe Pinchon

A major challenge nowadays is to control the automobile’s impact on the environment and its production of greenhouse gases, in particular carbon dioxide. Several means must be used to make cars and road transportation in general compatible with sustainable development. Technological innovations and progress have a leading role to play, especially in automobile motor systems.


Road transportation: From traditional fuels to solutions based on a technological breakthrough

Bernard Bensaid

Prospective energy studies up till 2030 agree that petroleum will still represent 40% of the world’s sources of energy and that the demand for oil will grow strongly (+ 60%). Given this, two major issues must be addressed: new reserves will have to be tapped to supply traditional motor fuels; and increases in the production of CO2 by motor vehicles will have to be limited. Technological innovations in both motors and sources of energy can achieve this.

Access to automobiles in emerging countries

Jean-Martial Breuil and Sophie Bastide

For the car-making industry, countries in western Europe, North America and Japan still represent the major markets, even though their share has decreased over the past decade in favor of emerging countries, especially in Asia. The latter now meet the many conditions for developing an automobile industry.

Car chaos in the Sao Paulo metropolitan area

Étienne Henry

Traffic jams in Sao Paulo are undoubtedly a factor in this metropolitan area’s demographic paralysis and geographic dispersion. Despite the strong growth in transportation, daily mobility is stagnating there. Powerful social contrasts modulate this disturbing picture. Individual transports have just surpassed public ones. Exponential growth in automobile traffic is to be expected. This flies in the face of the sustainable development advocated on the international level. It might lead to local stalemates and affect the alternative model, which risks being reproduced elsewhere.

Between the dream of a car and the reality in Chinese cities

Julien Allaire

What if China had as many cars as industrialized countries ? The Chinese government has chosen to develop the automobile industry and car sales in order to stimulate the country’s economic growth. But Chinese cities have, for several decades now, been shaped by other means of conveyance, and cannot adapt fast enough to this one. Other solutions might have to be found to meet the growing demand for mobility.

The conditions for an alternative to private motor vehicles

Claude Soulas and Francis Papon

Private automobiles now account for three quarters of the kilometers traveled in France, and for 43% elsewhere in the world. They apparently represent the inevitable means of transportation. But can we imagine another system ? Are there places where you can live without needing to move as much ? Can an alternative be worked out: public transportation, nonmotor transportation, “intermodality” ? What conditions are necessary to realize these alternatives ?

Shared automobiles, the missing link between public transportation and private motor vehicles ?

Simone Feitler

Highly motorized countries are making innovations in the supply of transportation: systems for sharing automobiles allow for using cars as a “means of individual public transportation”. Three types of services are being offered: “car-sharing”, which is well implanted and diversifying; “station-cars”, an exclusively American concept; and “serve yourself” cars. The last two, still experimental, only supply cars fueled by electricity.

Stop stimulating the demand for transportation

Yves Martin

By not making transportation pay its full external costs, we have stimulated a demand for moving persons and merchandise out of proportion with any real social utility. Transportation in urban areas now benefits from a major subsidy. This unjustified “free ride” has deviant effects on urbanism and the use of city streets by motor vehicles. Fuel and time will be saved whenever tolls are used to regulate car traffic inside cities.


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