Get ready for a car-alternative-future

- By Lola Boom

Maybe you are like me. Maybe this summer was THE summer. FINALLY, you were getting your driving license.

 A fresh new start! No more arriving late to places because you missed the bus, no more creepy staring contests in the metro, no more weirds smell,… You could almost feel the freedom at your fingertips.

 But things didn’t go as planned. You name it: you didn't have time, you failed the theory test, the exam etc. Or perhaps you didn’t even pass it. Well, friends: you are not alone.

According to recent statistics, a growing proportion of teens and young adults in Western countries are less likely to pass their driving license than older generations. This steady decline has been happening since the mid-80s.

This is why, in honour of the European mobility week (and our collective failed summer promises), in this article, I will briefly touch upon the alternatives Brussels and other places around the world have to offer in terms of mobility.


Cheer up and keep reading!


Why we might be ready to move on from cars


Owning a car might seem obvious (duh). But don’t forget all the negative aspects.

Mainly the downsides are the cost of buying and maintaining a car, getting a license and, of course, the pain of traffic. In major cities such as Mexico, Bangkok or Istanbul people lose hundreds of hours every year being stuck in their car. It might look glamorous in the opening of La la Land but everybody knows its a different business in real life.

Pollution is another big concern. Combustion engines are responsible for a quarter of the CO2 emission worldwide: it’s simply too much.

Thus, we need more modern and durable ways of commuting. Could the youth be leading that movement? What solutions are available?

Just think that in Brussels it would only take 10% fewer vehicles to get 40% less traffic. Considering a personal vehicle remains immobilized 97.6% of the time this sounds even more ridiculous.


Ever considered shared mobility?


So, a possible solution? What about giving shared mobility a chance? This can take two forms.

1) Re-USE

The principle is super-duper-easy. You drive a car (or a bike, or anything you can think of). You leave it somewhere. Someone else will drive it later. DONE.

If you're interested you can download some apps such as Cambio, Drive Now, Zencar.

 If you're interested in bike sharing think of using Villo or O-bike

 And if you’re unstoppable and super cool (and also afraid of growing up) think of Troty, a scooter sharing-system.


2) Together 

This is a great way to meet people as well! Collectively you’ll share the same way of transportation.

Blablacar is a well-known example of carsharing or Collecto if you are coming home late in the night.

 And then, there’s also the certain charm -- yes that’s right -- of public transportation. I mean who could forget that’s where James Blunt met his one and only as ‘she smiled at him on the subway’.


Why should you be excited about the future?


In terms of a car-free world, changes are coming! And in some cases, they are very inspiring as they go together with building a more eco-friendly world.


•   In Indonesia, the population is dealing with a massive waste problem. A solution that has been found by policy-makers is to allow commuters to now pay for the bus with the plastic waste they have collected.


•   Good news for our health! Many European cities are planning to stop selling or simply ban diesel cars in the near future (2024 for Rome and Paris, 2040 for London,…). Diesel is one of the first sources of pollution of the atmosphere and the fine particles it emits are thought to be responsible for many deaths within the E.U.


•   In Oslo, by 2019 there will be no more cars in the city centre. This should not be too utopic considering the pedestrians zone in Brussels keeps getting expanded.


•   In Copenhagen, there’s already 320 km of bicycle road! But its not over! Similarly to Germany, a plan to build a bike ‘highway’ is being developed.   


In short, it is very likely that the « car dream » being sold to audiences in the 60s and 70s has been overappreciated. The ecological emergency we’re facing means we can no longer afford the system of the ‘one man-one car’. It’s time to re-think our ways of transportation if we collectively want a better quality of life.

Manuela Moutafian