Most urbanites have by now seen an explosion of shared bikes and scooters popping up around their city. As congestion rises, existing transportation — from cars to buses to trains — can no longer keep up with growing populations. Cities are being forced to solve their transportation crisis amid rising concerns around gas-powered emissions. Canadians alone loose an average 85 hours a year due to traffic congestion, and in 2021, traffic cost Canadians roughly $3Billion. So what is the alternative? Is there an alternative?
What is Micromobility?
Micromobility refers to short-distance transport, usually less than 10km. Increasingly, it is shorthand for the growing number of e-bike’s, e-boards, and e-scooters that are poised to reshape the urban landscape. *In Canadian cities roughly 60% of all trips are 10 Kilometres or less*
With urbanization on the rise, the majority of trips people take fall within the category of micromobility and thus are prime candidates for e-bike and e-scooter usage. Emerging as a powerful alternative to the current public transit mix, the potential for micromobility to grow even further is becoming increasingly paramount to a cities infrastructure. As more people search for environmentally conscious transit alternatives, such as e-bikes and e-scooters, micromobility allows for potentially safer methods of transportation. It provides outdoor transit, sustainability (compared to gas & diesel powered transportation), and control over social distancing with fewer points of shared contact.
The Micromobility Shift
Cities globally are quickly growing both in size and population. In fact, projections show that by 2050, an additional 2.5B people will reside in urban areas. With most cities already dealing with dangerous levels of pollution and gridlocked streets, micromobility could solve a handful of problems. While there are challenges that come along with this growing trend, including lack of regulation, citywide bans, and theft, this phenomenon has the potential to revolutionize the landscape of the mobility industry globally.
Micromobility services increase access to public transportation, reduce the amount of cars on the road, lower our environmental footprint, and provide convenient methods of transportation for short trips; all while being cost-effective. Electric scooters, for example, can be more efficient than other modes of transport. One kilowatt hour of energy can only get a gasoline-powered car to travel 0.8 miles, according to Wired. An electric vehicle can travel 4.1 miles under the same conditions. However, an electric scooter can travel 82.8 miles using the same amount of energy.
Alternative ownership models & Bike-sharing
Some customers may prefer owning e-bikes and e-scooters instead of using shared mobility programs. In Europe, for instance, direct-to-consumer e-bike sales are set to reach 17M units sold annually by 2030. VanMoof, a Netherlands-based e-bike company has around 150,000 people using their e-bikes. However this can cost up to $2.3K. This is where a cities micromobility program (such as Ryde) can jump in and help out.
Asia has been a leading pioneer in the micromobility world, with China being the first country to implement a dockless bike-sharing platform back in 2015. In a continent with perilously high urban pollution levels and ultra-congested streets, it makes sense that cities like Beijing and Shanghai are leading the way to reduce automotive transportation and make the switch to emissions-free solutions. By late 2017, shared bikes had become the third most popular mode of public transit in China.
Micromobility will thrive as it provides city dwellers with a viable solution to their transportation woes and offer a greener alternative to cars. Covid-19 has accelerated the potential consolidation of the space, but also driven demand in a time where single-rider, open-air transportation solutions are highly desirable. As consumer and governmental adoption grows, and as the mobility industry inch closer to achieving profitable unit economics, we can expect to see more and more e-bikes, e-boards & e-scooters on the streets of the world’s cities.