Interview with Roger Junqueras – Director at UTE Pedalem Barcelona and Product Owner Bike Sharing for Spain and Portugal
- What is active mobility and what are its benefits?
Active mobility is the individual mobility in which we participate directly since we are exercising. Mobility on foot would be the main one, followed by cycling. Today the benefits are very clear. It isn’t only more sustainable, but also much healthier, and it interacts much better with the needs of our cities. For example, it provides a solution to traffic problems, pollution…
- Is active mobility slower?
I am convinced that it isn’t, the ability to move unipersonally allows you to achieve long distances in a short time. Due to the traffic in big cities you move faster by bicycle than by car. Active mobility allows you to move better and faster.
- Which urban mobility challenges are solved through active mobility?
Some of the challenges that we solve today through active mobility are the reduction of traffic and pollution thanks to the avoidance of individual transport methods such as cars. With bicycle or bike-sharing systems, we don’t intend to replace global mobility, but to be an agile and transversal mode that will be able to stitch the mobility infrastructure, which will facilitate the last-mile transportation of people. The idea is to offer versatility to the user so that he/she can move more freely and approach the workplace or other places in a more agile and pleasant way.
- Is active mobility reserved for big cities?
Active mobility isn’t reserved for large cities. I think it’s becoming necessary to expand this active mobility to small cities, especially those belonging to large metropolitan areas, radially connected. Active mobility must be transferred to give citizens the versatility to move around more freely and quickly. In the metropolitan area of Barcelona, a bike-sharing system will be implemented. The pandemic has changed the way we move, a freer and more personal mobility is preferred. We will also have to connect the center of the cities with the industrial zones through individual mobility, and in the best case, with active mobility.
- How has active mobility evolved in Barcelona?
Barcelona’s bike-sharing system has been growing since people have been demanding this type of use. Last year in Barcelona we exceeded 14,500,000 trips, more than in London. A lot of work is currently being done on bike lanes and on transforming urban roads into pedestrian zones. We also see that many cities are asking for tenders for bike-sharing systems. In Barcelona now we have 7,000 bicycles, 130,000 users, and more than 60,000 daily uses. There is a growing demand for these individual and active mobility systems. I believe that the bicycle will become even more popular. A few years ago, when the first bike-sharing system started in Barcelona, people used the bike to go to work and come back from it; nowadays, accelerated by the pandemic, we have seen that bicycles are also used to go to other places such as leisure activities.
- Why has the use of bike sharing increased?
The growth in the use of shared bikes is due to the incorporation of stations and new systems. It’s giving a much more effective response to the citizen; therefore, it’s much easier to consider moving through active mobility. Thanks to the incorporation of apps, bicycle reservation systems, space reservation systems, and predictability, in other words, all this growth in terms of systems, data, and artificial intelligence incorporated, and the fact of having a good product and a mature society, has led to an increase in the number of uses. We are breaking world records in terms of usage. Other factors have also played a crucial role, such as Covid-19, as people didn’t want to move by train or subway, so they preferred to move by bicycle and individually. Cities are also changing, and adding zero-emission zones and more pedestrian streets, so the difficulty of getting around by car will become higher, leading to even more growth in this individual mobility.
- What is the safety of individual mobility systems?
It’s a factor that we must consider. We have incorporated bike lanes in cities, so we have had to get used to this new mobility. European cities are making important efforts to improve the safety of bike lanes. As citizens, we lack road safety education, we don’t drive well. We have started to have regulations. When further progress is made with these regulations and the connectivity of bike lanes increases, safety will gradually improve.
- How do you foresee the micromobility of the future?
I divide macromobility and micromobility. Within the macro I place the car and the motorcycle; and within the micro, the scooter and the bicycle. I believe that the micromobility of the future will always be with a station. We have designed a pilot with scooters using the same bicycle station. Why is the station important? To guarantee the maintenance of these vehicles and make them available to the user where it’s necessary. For this reason, we in Barcelona were one of the first cities in the world to incorporate an artificial intelligence system that directs our logistics vehicles and foresees where it will be necessary to have a free bicycle. For us, it’s also a priority to get into the world of scooters. I believe that sharing will be imposed at all levels, macro, and micro. Mobility is changing and young people move in a differentiated way, with shared mobility; this is the future of big cities.