Putting people at the heart of the strategy to make mobility safer and, of course, greener: this is the force that drives MODALES member RACC (Reial Automòbil Club de Catalunya). After a long-year tradition focused solely on car drivers, RACC’s Mobility Specialist Joan Domingo explains the company’s strategy that today helps end users to “travel green and safe”.

Read the interview in Catalan.

Read the interview in Spanish.

As Spain’s largest mobility club, what is RACC’s role in MODALES?

“RACC is leading the work on User Trials and Evaluation, which will be the link between MODALES’ developments and their test with end-users. One of the trials will take place in Barcelona and we will organize it. Also, we are leading the Evaluation Plan, which was the main framework for ensuring coherence with all trial sites. This task has become a framework for validation, verification and evaluation of all developments in the project. Developing it required a big effort for all the partners involved.”

RACC also has lead the work on Guidelines for Low Emission Training, which aggregates all knowledge and main conclusions from the project’s technical work. This document is the base for both the Low Emissions Trainings that will be developed, and the DALED App that will give real time recommendations to drivers during, before and after the trip: this is what we call Active and Passive recommendations.

As an organisation strongly linked to users, we also participate in many events, such as conferences on mobility and safety, and our studies have a strong impact on media. This is why we also have a role in the dissemination activities of MODALES.”

Among its activities, RACC also works to foster environmentally friendly mobility. What role do users play in this process and how does RACC assist them to this end?

“RACC works very hard to foster a more environmentally friendly and safe mobility. This means we need people to change some travel routines by car, but we also need to offer them the necessary information, tools and practical and safe alternatives.

Among the traditional services, RACC works to make mobility greener by offering courses on Efficient-Driving, to help professional drivers to decrease fuel consumption. Asking users about their needs and their perceptions of reality helps us to identify gaps or conflicts in the current mobility policies, allowing us to understand how we can help users to change their mobility patterns. That’s why we also carry out a lot of surveys, such as the Annual Bike Barometer, while we have also recently conducted studies on new mobility patterns after COVID-19.

Awareness campaigns are as well in the focus of our activities. For, instance, the campaign “Hola Bici” aims to act as a platform for urban bike users.

Another example is RACC’s CityTrips MaaS Aggregator, available today in several cities worldwide. This platform displays all mobility means available around the user, from public transport to sharing modes and taxis, and facilitates the access to several services instead of having to check each operator’s own app. Other platforms for Car Pooling are under development. These are examples that show that putting users at the centre helps to serve their needs.

RACC also installs bike-points for self-repairing bikes in key spots, such as train-stations.  There are a lot of other examples of activates we have developed in that direction in order provide tools to our users, so they can act.

For those users who need a car that matches their needs, we offer objective information on the environmental performance of vehicles through the GreenNCAP programme, where we partner with the FIA to conduct emissions testing on CO2 and pollutants emissions. In the future, we will also inform consumers on the whole lifecycle impact of vehicles on the environment.”

To what extent does driving behavior have an impact on the environment and emissions?

“Many factors influence emissions, most of them depending on the vehicle, the surrounding environment and the road conditions. Users can change very little their vehicle characteristics or influence the congestion on the roads they are driving on. Still, there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to reducing emissions through their behavior. The aggressiveness of the driving style, which is the frequency and intensity of acceleration and breaking, plays a key role. Also, a proper maintenance of the car, for instance reviewing and maintaining a proper tyre pressure before and after the trip, will influence the overall emissions. The aim of MODALES is to arrange those issues and help drivers to keep emissions under the lowest levels possible, even though they cannot change the context they are driving in.”

Do you think users are becoming more aware of mobility’s impact on the environment? Do you have any data to share?

“Yes, users are becoming more aware of the impact mobility causes on the environment, and most of them are willing to change their daily mobility patterns. However, this only can happen when alternatives are available in a practical and safe way. Studies show that once practical and safe alternatives are available, most of users adopt new mobility means. For instance, the Annual Bike Barometer study we conduct every year displays that since the city of Barcelona has implemented better bike infrastructure and allowed sharing means, bike use has greatly increased. It is still the lowest share in the total modal split, but it is the mode that has increased the most. 13% of bike-users interviewed in the Bike-Barometer study said they used to move by car, and 32% of users say to be aware they pollute less by doing so. We have found out that users who need a car have increased sharply their interest in plug-in electric hybrid vehicles, over battery electric. Also, the introduction of low emission zones has put environmental impact within the purchase criteria of consumers.”