In Spain, on any average working day, there are approximately 37 million trips to and from work. The Sustainable Economy Law contemplates the development of company transport plans aimed at promoting less-contaminating means of worker mobility. On the occasion of World Bicycle Day on June 3 and World Environment Day on June 5, we analyze the role that companies can play to improve worker mobility.

In Spain, according to the Transport and Logistics Observatory, of the 445,388 million kilometers traveled in 2019, almost 85% were by road. According to the Mobility Survey of residents in Spain from 2006-07 (Movilia), the number of trips to and from work on a normal working day was approximately 37 million of the total of 123 million trips. The European Project study carried out by E-Cosmos in 2010 analyzed the distribution of home-work trajectories in Spain, Italy, Germany and Belgium and concluded that 63% of home-work trajectories were by car (with only one passenger), 13% by public transport and 20% on foot or by bicycle.

This modal distribution of travel for work reasons explains why the health crisis resulting from COVID-2019 gave rise to an historic reduction in CO₂ emissions in 2020. The Emissions Gap Report 2020 published by the UNO estimates that in 2020, there was a decrease of 7% in CO₂ emissions with respect to 2019. However, emissions are expected to increase again after the COVID-2019 crisis, amongst other factors, due to worker mobility.

Sustainable worker mobility is aimed at satisfying the needs of society to move freely, without sacrificing other essential human and/or ecological values. We must take into account that worker mobility not only includes traveling to a work center, but also all the trips that take place for a worker to provide his/services and return home.

In our country, the Sustainable Economy Law 2/2011 of March 4, 2011 devotes Chapter III to to sustainable transport and mobility. The Law contemplates Sustainable Mobility Plans as a set of activities aimed at implementing more sustainable forms of transport, prioritizing the reduction of individual transport, moving towards collective systems and developing others that make economic growth, social cohesion, road safety and environmental protection compatible.

In this regard, companies must also play their part and article 103 of the Law contemplates the development of company transport plans aimed at reducing the use of cars and promoting less-contaminating means of worker transport. It even calls for the adopting of joint plans between companies that share the same venue or building or carry out their business at the same estate or premises, as well as the appointment of a mobility coordinator at companies with more than 400 workers.

These transport plans are voluntary for companies and therefore largely depend on the company’s commitment to sustainability, as part of its social corporate responsibility.

It is the time for all operators, administrations, companies and individuals to increase their awareness of the consequences for the planet of the daily travel by workers.

International concern

According to the UNO, approximately half the world’s population live in cities and in the year 2030, the figure is expected to increase to 5,000 million inhabitants. This concentration represents 60% to 80% of the total consumption of energy  and 75% of carbon emissions, but only occupies 3% of the planet’s surface area.

The situation is being studied and concerns the large majority of international organizations, including the UNO which, in 2015, passed the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. 193 countries, including Spain, made a commitment towards achieving the sustainable development goals of Agenda 2030.

Amongst the 17 goals of Agenda 2030, number 11 refers to sustainable cities, including amongst other objectives: (i) to provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, and (ii) to reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality.