Over half the world’s population lives in cities. In Europe it is 75%. They are the nerve centres of industry, trade and education, which generate the majority of GDP. Most citizens need and want to live in them, but at the same time, this population density generates great social, economic and environmental challenges. Mobility is key for quality of life, and good management is everyone’s responsibility: that of councils and companies, but also of each individual. You can contribute to making your city cleaner and help to decrease the negative consequences generated by pollution.
Walking or cycling are the most highly recommended options
An adult in reasonable physical condition can manage 4 or 5 kilometres on foot to get to work. And as we know, cities are making an effort to create more and more bike lanes. Public transport is still the best way to get around, with travellers occupying fifty times less space and emitting 70% less carbon dioxide than they would in a private vehicle. As the number of electric buses increases, so will this percentage. Since May of last year TMB has incorporated the first 100% electric articulated bus.
Hybrids will gradually be replaced by fully electric ones. But in addition to buses, the underground, railways and trams, there are more ways to get around electrically that you may not have known about:
The electric bike
We’re not all made for pedalling up and down like Miguel Indurain, our neighbourhood has lots of hills, and sweating doesn’t suit us. There are many reasons that sometimes make us reject this type of transport. But some of these reasons disappear in the case of electric bicycles, which do the work when you get tired. And you have different options: if you choose to buy one, the AMB has even brought out a range of subsidies for acquiring electric bikes; there are 500 each year and they give you €250 to purchase your electric bicycle. In this shop in Barcelona, they even help you with the process if you buy one of their bicycles.
Many are collapsible and lightweight so they are convenient to take anywhere. They have a range of between 40 and 80 km and powerful engines that allow you to get around comfortably and at a considerable speed (25-30 km/h). Most shops also offer electric scooters, another comfortable and fun way to get around the city. The other option is to rent an electric bike; there are many rental companies throughout the city and, as has long been done with motorcycles, the concept of bike-sharing using an app is being introduced. Last June, a Californian company set up business in Barcelona and introduced 500 motorcycles and 1000 electric bicycles to the city.
Watch out for the specifications and don’t confuse an electric bike with an electric motorcycle, as Gerard Piqué did.
Urban electric vehicles
But if none of the above options suit you and you need a vehicle, because you have a lot to carry, the weather is bad, the connection is tricky or the distance is too great to go by bike or motorcycle, there are a growing number of options for urban electric cars to move around the city. We found this model that does not require a licence; it’s very small and compact and can access areas restricted to traffic.
Or this new car built using a 3D printer which costs less than €8,000. They may not be able to go more than 70 km/h but they can be parked almost anywhere and are very comfortable for getting around the city and surrounding areas.
The carsharing and motorbike-sharing option
If you didn’t have buying a vehicle in mind, there’s also the option of electric carsharing and motorbike-sharing, which has been proven to take out of circulation between 15 and 20 private cars for every vehicle used with this system. It is an emerging business but, like all initiatives related to sustainable mobility, it will grow. Currently there is this company and the rental price is around 25 cents per minute.
In short, the options for getting around the city and its surroundings in a sustainable way are numerous, increasingly comfortable and easy, so you have no excuse for using your fossil fuel car for intercity travel. Living in a healthy and more sustainable environment is up to all of us.