The best means of transport for every distance

Micro-mobility is ideal for city travel. Over longer distances, cars are often better, preferably if you share the trip.

Home Life Sustainability mobility The best means of transport for every distance

When choosing the right means of transport for a particular route, various criteria come into play, such as speed of travel, cost, environmental impact and convenience. Some parameters, like the generated CO2 emissions, are objective, but others are subjective. Some people prefer to use their own vehicle to be more independent, while others choose shared mobility and public transport to save and for reasons of social responsibility. However, there are general considerations that can guide you in deciding which means of transport to use.

According to the statistics by Eurostat, in 2019 for more than half (61.3 per cent) of European workers, the commute to work takes less than 30 minutes. On average, it takes about 25 minutes for a European to get to work. For distances that do not exceed 6-7 kilometres, that is for most journeys within city boundaries, micro-mobility is definitely the best option. Cycling, skateboarding and walking generate fewer emissions, are faster because of traffic, more practical because they eliminate the problem of parking and they are good for your health (cycling for just half an hour a day prevents many cardiovascular and joint diseases) and for meeting other people. The unknown factor, in this case, is the danger in cities where the infrastructure for micro-mobility (primarily cycling lanes) is not yet sufficiently widespread. For more challenging distances, ebikes and electric scooters are ideal.

There is at least another figure in support of soft mobility for short distances, that is half of all car journeys in the so-called Eu15 (the 15 countries that have been in the EU since before 2004) do not exceed 6 kilometres. If we replaced 30 per cent of car trips shorter than 6 kilometres with bicycle trips, there would be a 4 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions from road traffic. Considering that one car takes up about the space of 20 bicycles, it would have the added benefit of making our cities more liveable. In short, when the weather and physical conditions permit, light vehicles are better than cars for short city trips.

While for many the daily commute is relatively short, the home-work trip alone is longer than one hour for some (8 per cent, again according to Eurostat data for 2019). Even ebikes are impractical for medium to long distances. At that point, there are two ways: public transport or car. Where it is efficient, public transport is the cheapest, least polluting and often the least stressful solution. Trains in this sense are ideal, also because you can supplement your trip with micro-mobility for shorter journeys (for instance, you can pedal to the station on a foldable bike or an electric scooter that you can then take on the train with you).

On the other hand, cars are the best option where public transport connections are lacking. For long distances, cars undoubtedly save time allowing you to be independent and enjoy a certain degree of comfort as well as, for some, the pleasure of driving. The downside is the high costs (petrol, tolls, maintenance, management) and environmental costs. However, there are solutions to this too, like car sharing, with the use of non-owned cars, some even with zero emissions because as early as 2020 about 45 per cent of the car-sharing companies active in Europe had all-electric fleets. Car-pooling is also an effective means of cutting costs and emissions. Instead of taking four different cars to get to work, co-workers can take turns driving together in a single car, according to their needs. It would also be a good initiative on a social level.