At present, the transport sector faces challenges regarding the improvement of access to goods, job, markets and services demanding additional services and infrastructures. At the same time, it is important to optimize other aspects of transport, related to the economic, social and environmental situation. Negative transport outsourcing are estimated at 6-10% of GDP, the subsidies which support the monitoring process amount to USD 300-900 Billion, while the costs of road accidents are estimated at USD 2,240 Billion (3% of GDP and 5% of the GDP in developing countries). Also, pure carbon emissions coming from diesel vehicles determine climate changes, transport being responsible for ¼ of GHG, which could increase by 70% until 2050, shows a Status Report on the Contribution of Sustainable Transport to the Implementation of Rio+20 – Creating Universal Access to Safe, Clean and Affordable Transport, elaborated by the United Nations.
The “avoid-shift-improve” concept is important to create a change in the transport system and to gene-rate a more inclusive access by developing the infrastructure and services. All the solutions of the approach are scale-tested and can deliver inclusive access. These solutions will have multiple benefits among which improvement of access and road safety, reducing congestion, emissions etc. Moreover, they will supply more and more proof that underlines the importance of growth-oriented sustainable transport leading to significant savings for the business environment.
“To achieve a transformation change in transportation and a political form on inclusive access, it is necessary to shift from building road transport (to shift road traffic) to more sustainable transport systems providing mobility for passengers and freight. There is a growth consensus between transport specialists and designers on the need to implement three interconnected strategies. The development of transport and services infrastructure has to be guided by the <<avoid-shift-improve>> approach”, the report states.
It shows the need to avoid the necessity of motorized journeys to the intelligent use of spaces and logistics planning, to shift freight and passengers to more sustainable transport modes and to improve the efficiency and performance of the environment for transport systems by improving vehicles, fuels, transport operations and management technologies. “In order to successfully implement the <<avoid-shift-improve>> concept, it is desirable to internalize the external transport costs”, the document states.
The concept is universally applicable and it is relevant for all countries, either developed or developing.
“Internationally, in the case of the developed world most countries deal with a mature vehicle fleet and the emphasis in infrastructure planning is likely to be more on replacing or maintaining existing infrastructure rather than creating new infrastructure. This is likely to result in a greater emphasis on “improve” measures. In the developing world where there is a large need for additional and new transport infrastructure and services and where urbanization is proceeding most rapidly, there is likely to be greater opportunity for “avoid” and “shift” measures. However “improve” measures are still important as well to counter the impacts of rapid motor vehicle fleet growth in the developing world”, the report concludes.
The avoid-shift-improve concept, initially developed as a political paradigm, acts more and more as a comprehensive political framework for the development of a sustainable transport system.