They are always fascinating, these aerial views of road interchanges. This one in Los Angeles would be almost too simple, too readable. Paths that overlap, tunnels, bridges, cleverly studied curves, complex interlacings where a few rare traces of nature survive: the Boeotian always wonders about the profession of the engineers who designed these labyrinths (which are not, since in principle , it is easy to get out of it!), on the complexity of their calculations, on the implementation of their projects during interminable projects whose goal we only understand at the very end. Even if the American highways are not in very good condition and if the government of Joe Biden must inject a lot of dollars to renovate their infrastructure, we understand that the automobile queen is not about to be overthrown from her throne, depending for it and its builders to reform by wearing less polluting court clothes.
Sometimes these tangled curves create a strange impression; would we have entered another universe? We remember a totally empty highway in a large Chinese city, stopping abruptly, a few meters above the ground and the heads of passers-by. Construction error or evidence of late remorse? It crossed the border of an old historic district with rich tourist attractions.
In 2020, road safety figures showed a significant drop in the number of accidents and therefore deaths and injuries on the roads (379 fewer deaths compared to the previous year). Covid and confinement having drastically reduced traffic for several weeks explained this record. So much so that statisticians are now choosing to compare the figures for 2021 not only with 2020 but also with 2019. This year, accidentology is on the rise, especially in July with departures on vacation which marked a time of freedom recovered for a lot of us.
Since the start of the pandemic, the use of public transport has decreased, perhaps for fear of the virus or because of different working rhythms, of the alternation between teleworking at home and returning to the company’s premises. . Admittedly, public transport is not always up to the task, and the inhabitants of rural areas remind us how much they need a vehicle, for work, shopping, medical appointments, how much the increase in fuel prices impacts them. But the end of the constraints imposed by the Covid should not prevent us from continuing to wonder about the proper use of the car, about the possible solutions to better control this use. The health of the planet and our own are at stake; it is also possible, let us not forget, to measure the effects in terms of lives gained and handicaps avoided.
“Soft mobility” in the city does not make all city dwellers dream. In our society where the notion of personal freedom is widely acclaimed, coercion does not have a good press. And the time gained or lost becomes the only criterion of judgment (we remember the debates around the 80 km / hour on certain roads). Let’s not forget the others.