six graphs showing that the French are more mobile than in March

By Mathilde Damgé and Léa Sanchez

Posted today at 08:48

The government announced, Thursday, November 12, the continuation of confinement, decreed from October 30 to limit the health effects of the second wave of Covid-19. Already tested for nearly two months in the spring, the device has been lightened to allow children to go to school and workers to continue their activity.

The objective is to “Limit as much as possible all non-essential trips”, all in “Preserving the education of our children and, as much as possible, its impact on employment and the economy, recalled the Prime Minister, Jean Castex.

Are these restrictions well respected? Can we compare this winter confinement with the unprecedented experience of spring? We draw up, thanks to the graphs below, a first assessment, after two weeks, of the effects of this “relaxed confinement” on mobility, traffic jams and pollution.

As these data may be influenced by factors external to the measures restricting freedom (rain episodes, school vacations, public holidays or even the seasonal effect), we have tried to show you trends using averages, when possible. In all cases, the detail appears on hover and you can consult the original data in the “source” link.

Open schools, authorized business trips …

Evolution of the daily trips of the French

compared to the average number of trips made during the week of February 3 to 7, 2020 (before the pandemic, excluding strikes and school holidays)

On average, the French move twice as much as during the first confinement, if we are based on mobility data from the telephone operator Orange. Inserm researchers, who have had access to it, specify that the increase in journeys outside the community of municipalities or the metropolis of residence is especially marked in the schedules of home-work or home-school trips.

As during the first confinement, the decline in mobility measured by this analysis is greater in Ile-de-France, where teleworking is more possible than in other regions. It reached – 40% of normal activity, against an average of – 30% throughout France.

Which translates into public transport …

Change in attendance at public transport stops

compared to the median of the five-week period between January 3 and February 6, 2020

Train stations, bus, metro, taxi stations, ports… Google’s location data on public transport stop attendance also draws a much less dense picture than usual, but more sustained than in March.

In Paris, public transport frequentation remains well below its usual levels, even if it has increased compared to the first confinement: around 30% of the maximum level, against 10% in March. In other French cities, attendance represents about half of what is usually recorded.

In Paris, the bicycle remains queen

Use of Parisian cycling infrastructures

on average cyclist passages per day and per measurement point in Paris

In March-April, cycle paths, like the streets, were almost empty in Paris (less than 500 passages per day and per measuring point on average). Deconfinement was accompanied by a bicycle boom, which persisted despite the autumn weather.

The second confinement returns to the levels of attendance observed in February. From November 2 to 8, 660,000 bicycle passages were recorded in Paris.

Cars also come out of the garage

Maximum traffic kilometers in Ile-de-France

While the daily traffic jams in Ile-de-France had been reduced to nothing during the first confinement, motorists continue to travel this time, with traffic equivalent to the week of August 15.

The announcement of the second confinement caused, Thursday, October 29, a historic congestion on the roads of Ile-de-France, with 736 kilometers of cumulative traffic jams, exceeding the peaks of the strikes of December 2019 and almost reaching the absolute record due to snow in 2018.

Result, no truce for air pollution …

Nitrogen oxides emissions at Place de l’Opéra

According to Airparif, the association responsible for monitoring air quality in Ile-de-France, the first days of the second confinement are accompanied by a drop of only 20% in emissions linked to road traffic.

In March, at the end of the first week of confinement, Airparif had recorded a collapse of 70% of these same emissions.

… and not the same calm as in the spring

Noise generated by the Paris and Lyon peripherals

represented by the Lden indicator (twenty-four hour weighted noise level) expressed in dB (A) and rounded to the unit.

The residents of the road and rail axes have not found the peace of the first confinement either. This is the case, for example, in Lyon, where the specialized Acoucité observatory observed during the first confinement a reduction of 4 dB to 6 dB in most of its measurement stations (as a reminder, a reduction in the sound level of 10 dB is experienced as halving the noise).

This time, the decrease in noise pollution observed by specialized French observatories is less clear on the main roads. Porte d’Auteuil, the average noise level (weighted over twenty-four hours) generated by the Paris ring road has never fallen below the 80 dB (A) mark since October 30.

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