Mobility in Europe in twenty years will be completely different. Well-connected railroads and extended public transport links should enable us to dispense with short-haul flights and journeys in barely occupied cars. Political measures will make such types of mobility extremely unattractive: E.g. through appropriate fuel taxation and subsidization of rail and local transport – in many areas this will then be offered at low cost or even free of charge. Decommissioned stations and lines will be reactivated. So will journeys on night trains throughout Europe and beyond. High-speed rail lines will be extended to connect all capitals. There will be bicycle compartments on all trains to allow the combination of train and bicycle travel. Bus routes will be laid out more closely and run at higher frequencies. Especially in rural areas. People who cannot be granted access to public transport by then (e.g. because they live in rural areas or have a physical impairment) will be subsidized if they are dependent on their car. But especially if they are willing to organize carpools, or resort to alternative mobility solutions (e.g. e-bikes). At the same time, there are worthwhile benefits from health insurance if longer distances are regularly covered by bicycle. Infrastructure in large cities will be geared toward bicycles and public transportation rather than motor vehicles. Bicycle courier services and rickshaws will play an important role in inner-city utility infrastructure. Also by political measures it will be achieved that in smaller cities and communities the needs of the everyday supply are secured and thus distances, e.g. to the next doctor, to the kindergarten or supermarket are kept short. Employers are willing to grant their employees more vacation days at a time, in order to make long-distance travel possible during the vacation period, which relies on slower means of transportation than the airplane.
I myself try to talk to my family and friends about the harmful effects of airplane travel. I use the bicycle and train and very rarely drive a car, although as a low-income person living in the country, this is sometimes not so easy for me. However, I see the extended bike rides as my daily exercise program at the same time, and the high cost of train travel as my regular donation to the environment. When I plan a long-distance trip every few years, I ask myself if there are alternative itineraries that could possibly already be designed as an exciting part of the trip. I also question my inner desires and needs as to whether this long-distance trip is really necessary, and if so, I try to extend the duration of the trip and choose my destination in such a way that the trip is more environmentally friendly than, for example, a week’s vacation in the Maldives.