Micromobility

NickOttensNickOttens Community ManagerBarcelona, SpainPosts: 448 admin
The Financial Times reports that “micromobility”, including electric scooters and bikes, is seen as a potential solution to moving people more efficiently around cities.
Dozens of start-ups including Bird, Lime, Voi and Bolt have flooded cities with shared scooters that can be rented by the minute. In a recent survey, some 34 percent of riders in Portland, Oregon said they had used a scooter instead of driving a personal car or using a ride-hailing app or taxi for their most recent ride.

There are challenges, though.

Scooter safety is making city planners hesitate. Sweden’s transport agency is calling for electric scooters to be banned following the death of a man riding a Voi scooter in Helsingborg. More than 1,500 people were injured riding scooters in the US in 2018, according to estimates by Consumer Reports.

Here in Barcelona, the city has already banned rental e-scooters (but not privately-owned ones), fearing they would be used by tourists who will make already congested streets unsafe. Instead, the city has introduced its own e-bike sharing scheme, available to residents. Those are very popular.

For scooters to work, the FT says cities will need to create more safe pathways for them -- possibly high above the city streets. Xiamen in southeast China, for example, has built a nearly 8 kilometer elevated cycleway for bikes.

That’s going to be more of a challenge in small and historic European cities, but it might be a possibility in America?

Comments

  • NickOttensNickOttens Community Manager Barcelona, SpainPosts: 448 admin
    @esh, @FatimaMaria, @UM2100, @eli, you might be interested in this topic. How do you see this playing out over the next few years?
  • elieli Posts: 1
    The "last mile" solution hasn't been invented yet. We thought it would be Segway, then public bikes, then all kinds of scooters. Not there yet. My hunch is that it's going to be a new method, perhaps a combination with urban single person pods. Anything that requires cities building separate pathways won't work.
  • NickOttensNickOttens Community Manager Barcelona, SpainPosts: 448 admin
    More on e-scooters from the Niskanen Center:
    Growing pains occur with the introduction of any new technology. A similar process unfolded with the introduction of ride-hailing, along with many other legacy technologies that we now use without a second thought. There will no doubt be further regulatory intervention and corresponding pushback from the private sector until a stable policy equilibrium is found. The sudden introduction of a novel technology upsets the status quo. But for cities struggling with congestion and a lack of transportation options for underserved populations, the example of e-scooters shows how forward-thinking leaders can embrace change while balancing the interests of the broader public through thoughtful public-private collaborations. The cities that react to new transportation technologies with bans and stiff penalties, on the other hand, are more often left playing catch-up once what’s scary and new becomes trusted and commonplace.
  • NickOttensNickOttens Community Manager Barcelona, SpainPosts: 448 admin
    eli wrote:
    Anything that requires cities building separate pathways won't work.

    Why not?

    Here in Barcelona, the city has been building separate bicycle lanes, which in my home country of the Netherlands are of course ubiquitous. It takes planning and time, but as a result of the bike lanes + a city-run bike-sharing scheme (called Bicing), bicycle use is up.
  • NickOttensNickOttens Community Manager Barcelona, SpainPosts: 448 admin
    A more radical proposal: ban cars from city centers outright.
    A car-centered transportation system is simply at odds with the logic of a dense city. For commuters, cars take up a huge volume of space being parked at home and at work. On the road, a lane of highway traffic can transport about 3,000 people per hour under perfect conditions, while a subway can easily manage 10 times that — and many do even better. And while subways can be delayed, conditions are rarely ideal on the highway — on the contrary, every day at rush hour most are jammed to a crawl with too many cars, or slowed by some gruesome accident.

    What's more, the terrible toll of injuries and deaths inflicted on ... cyclists and pedestrians ... is simply what happens when one allows cars to roam free in cities. It is highly risky to allow huge, heavy steel cages capable of high speeds to be flying around crowds of delicate human bodies. It takes only a slight error or moment of inattention to get someone brutally killed.
  • NickOttensNickOttens Community Manager Barcelona, SpainPosts: 448 admin
    @jd_sabikeshare, @jslavin, I'd be interested in reading your thoughts on this issue. Do you think micro-mobility is the solution for every city?
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