Everyone everywhere needs to have access to mobility, not just people in major urban centres. An increasing number of rural areas are starting to address this concern, because although it is now possible to access a number of services at just the click of a button wherever you may be, getting around can often still be a struggle when you live in the countryside. Public transport can form part of the solution, but such services are often few and far between, and sometimes may even be inexistant.
So, why should rural communities be denied the possibility to enjoy smart mobility services that are green, shared and available to all, just like people in towns and cities? A challenge that is all the more important at a time when less densely populated areas have never been so popular. Certain areas are tackling the issue head on, demonstrating incredible creativity. That’s what is happening in Luitré-Dompierre, a village in Brittany, northwestern France, home to 1,900 people, which has found a solution by developing a service area offering a car share service through Mobilize Share.
“God helps those who help themselves” is a phrase Michel Balluais, mayor of Luitré-Dompierre in France’s northwestern Brittany region, likes to live by. Convinced of the need to facilitate access to transport, he therefore decided to take action, in consultation with his constituent, to ensure they could all take advantage of a range of transport solutions. At the heart of the system lies the car share service provided by Mobilize Share.
We wanted to provide people with solutions to make it easier for them to get around day to day or for more occasional needs by making environmentally friendly transport available.
Michel Balluais, mayor of Luitré-Dompierre
From a citizen café to developing a new service – the birth of a new kind of mobility
It all started at a citizen café with local residents to understand their needs.
Our village is very well situated, explained the Mayor. We are on the V9 bike route that runs from the Mont Saint Michel to Chateaubriand, in the heart of a region that attracts many tourists. We are just 10 km from Fougères and 45 minutes from Rennes.
If many people commute to these destinations, the mobility needs expressed by the community also covered a much smaller scale, such as going to and from local shops and services.
We aim to enable everyone, across all generations, to be able to move around as they wish without always having to use their car. Basically, we want to promote shared mobility by providing a range of transport solutions, said Michel Balluais.
A service hub with two shared Renault ZOE
The village of Luitré-Dompierre has risen to the challenge with enthusiasm, just like a project team! The idea was to create a service hub centred around the Mobilize Share car share service, through which two Renault ZOE vehicles are available to the public.
The mayor and his team chose to roll out the solution in three stages, first by designing the infrastructure, then equipping it and finally promoting the service.
The hub was designed and installed in an area alongside a thoroughfare on the outskirts of the village, where appropriate signage was also erected. It boasts a number of services, including a car wash, a caravan park, a car pooling meeting point, a fleet of electric bikes and a car sharing service with the two Renault ZOE, complete with a charging station of course. The hub was designed to make it easy for people to get around the local area, by combining various modes of transport.
The project received support from the European Commission as part of the Leader initiative developed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) that aims to support rural communities in meeting their local development objectives.
Making life easier for local people
In scarcely populated areas like Luitré-Dompierre, local people tend to rely heavily on their cars. Some families feel it is essential to own one or two cars, which they often associate with a feeling of freedom – “I can go where I want, when I want, and don’t need to plan”. The introduction of this service can help certain families who only own one car but sometimes needs to travel to two different places at the same time. Ultimately, it will encourage some people to seriously consider whether or not two vehicles are really necessary when it is just as easy to book a shared vehicle when they need via an app.
The local authority felt it was important to promote and support the uptake of the new service by ensuring someone at the council is always available to help users if they require. It also gives them the opportunity to get their feedback on the service, while directly monitoring how often the vehicles are used and for what purpose. Further to the novelty of car sharing, the new service will introduce a number of users to the joys of driving an electric vehicle.
Mobilize Share, a simple, effective solution
Car sharing offers a number of advantages, for example it helps people to save money, as they no longer need to buy a second car, but first and foremost it provides near permanent access to mobility
Mr Bertel, a pensioner living in Luitré-Dompierre, uses the Mobilize Share service when his wife needs to take the family car. It offers an easy and cheap alternative that in no way restricts his freedom to get about.
My wife and I may need a vehicle at the same time. It could be for shopping or to visit our son in Rennes.
Mr Bertel, a pensioner living in Luitré-Dompierre
With just a few clicks in the Mobilize Share app, he can book one of the two Renault ZOE vehicles. The car’s range (395 km according to the WLTP) comfortably allows him to travel to Rennes and back, and even go further should he so desire.
Users pick the cars up and drop them off after use at the charging station installed by the council in the village.
The proposed car-sharing service operates in a “closed loop”, i.e. once the user has completed his/her journey, he/she must return the vehicle to its original location.
The vehicles can be booked for a number of hours or for the day, and the local authority underwrites the cost of charging and maintaining the vehicles, while providing the service at the very reasonable price of €5 per hour of €25 for 24 hours.
Car sharing: a relevant response to the need for mobility in the countryside
Initiatives to bring new mobility solutions to rural areas are gaining in popularity and trials are proving successful. Car sharing offers an alternative solution that complements existing transport services. It is also a practical and efficient solution: it reduces traffic and optimises a mobility budget.
When the car share fleet is composed of electric vehicles like in Luitré-Dompierre, it helps to combine mobility with protecting the environment and satisfying the needs of people looking for greener, more sustainable mobility solutions, concluded the mayor.