FOCUS – Two months without a car to test alternative modes of transport, such is the challenge taken up by 100 people in Grenoble at the initiative of the Koolicar company, in partnership with the Maif, the Metro and the SMTC. An experience that aims to make motorists less addicted to four wheels.
Never without my car? Based in Versailles, this is Koolicar’s challenge: to convince motorists to give up using their cars, in favour of cycling, using public transport and even using car sharing, for two months, as part of operation “without my car”, which takes place from 1st October to 3rd December, 2016, in Grenoble.
Car sharing, is Koolicar’s niche. Although the operation is to teach, it is not “anti-car”, but more a question of the need to use a personal vehicle. “We’re not saying that you should never use a car,” says Élisa Desgranges, head of the operation, “but to share vehicles and in so doing, to optimize their use, so that there is a minimum number of vehicles on the roads of France.”
Travel free for two months
Last year, a “without my car” operation was organized in Bordeaux and Niort, in partnership with the Maif, which waived the cost of vehicle insurance during the two months of immobilization; a renewed partnership for 2016, but this time, in Dijon and Grenoble.
The Metro and the SMTC (Grenoble urban public transport authority, en), also partners, will give the volunteers free access to public transport during the two months of the operation, as well as the use of metrovelos. Participants will also be offered two months of free parking for their vehicles in the Vallier-Catane car park, which is not negligible.
The goal? To register “in a global mobility changing dynamic”, according to Élisa Desgranges, and also to collect feedback from the people participating in the operation, both during and after the two month period.
To support its message, Koolicar – not without humour – used the idea of the superhero: is it heroic to live car-free, when you live in the city? “We didn’t want to make people feel guilty, by saying it is wrong to take your car”, explained the manager.
“The approach is to challenge people to play the game and have fun. Of course, it is a little kitschy, in the second degree, but playing on guilt is not the way to make people want to take part!”
Guillaume, who lives in the Europole neighborhood and works at Alpexpo, counts among the 100 people in Grenoble participating in the “without my car” operation. “I did the journey every day by car, on the main roads, and every morning I hit the Rondeau traffic jams..”, admits the 26 year old from Grenoble, who is “environmentally sensitive.”
Even though he doesn’t feel like a superhero, he notices the astonishment of his co-workers, surprised that he volunteered to be deprived of his car for two months.
Volunteers from 18 to over 80 years of age
It was through social networking that he got wind of the operation and decided to apply. Logically, it’s through Twitter that he shares his impressions. For now, he favours the metrovelo to get to work, but does not exclude taking public transport when the weather becomes less clement.
“The objective”, precises Guillaume, “is not to give up my car. I think that I’ll still need it from time to time. Really, the idea is to limit using it, as much as possible, and to maximize travelling by bicycle, keeping the car for essential journeys only.”
But, at the age of 26, and with no dependent family, wouldn’t it be easier to give up the car? “We tried to encourage people with many different profiles,” says Élisa Desgranges, including several families, some large, and people of different ages, ranging from 18 to over 80. Koolicar had a difficult choice, having received nearly 250 applications for 100 available places in Grenoble.
Will they sell their cars?
Naturally, each volunteer is free to put an end to the experience and to reclaim their vehicle whenever they wish. Will the goodwill last into November? Last year, only one person left the operation along the way, but for professional reasons.
What about those who go all the way? They can collect their car, or will be offered help if they decide to sell. Guillaume will not sell his car, but, after just a few days, is already thinking about buying his own bike.
Traduction from Speak English Center
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