Micromobility E-scooters and the urban mobility ecosystem
In 2019, the global electric scooter market size was estimated at $18.6 billion and is expected to see continued rapid growth. But how ready are our European cities to adopt e-scooters on a large scale?
The rise of electric scooters in recent years has spawned some unexpected success stories in the urban transport sector. In fact, it has been said that e-scooters are the fastest-growing transport technology in history. In cities across the world, e-scooters are becoming part of transport infrastructures as residents embrace their convenience over cars and other forms of public transport. According to the NUMO New Mobility Atlas, shared micromobility is now available in 626 cities, over 53 countries. And just two years after the Atlas was launched, 300 million e-scooter trips were made globally with figures expected to increase at a significant pace.
E-scooters offer cities with many benefits, including reduced car usage, eased congestion and more efficient use of parking in public spaces. They produce very little noise pollution and are low in carbon emissions. E-scooters also offer a practical answer to the first-and-last-mile need.
Reducing carbon emissions
According to recent figures from the European Parliament, transport is responsible for nearly 30% of the EU's total CO2 emissions, of which 72% comes from road transportation. The widespread adoption of e-scooters could help reduce urban CO2 emissions significantly, given that electric motors are over three times more efficient than combustion engines.
For example, according to micromobility company Lime, in Paris, e-scooters have replaced 1.2 million motor vehicle trips, saving more than 330 tonnes of CO2. The company also predicts that by increasing the adoption of e-scooters, the city could save over 10,000 tonnes of CO2 by 2030.
Similarly, a recent report published by Ernst and Young found that combined e-scooter initiatives in Paris yielded a 71% reduction in global emissions since January 2019 with swappable battery scooters and cargo bike operations driving a 51% reduction.
How cities can support e-scooter sustainability
When it comes to mass adoption of electric scooters, cities face several challenges. Most, don’t have the infrastructure in place to support new micromobility options at scale. This is problematic given that the sustainability of e-scooters relies on public access. There’s also the issue of safety. Cities need to be equipped to handle the speed, limited visibility and wheel size of e-scooters on damaged roads. Likewise, many pavements in European cities aren’t wide enough to accommodate scooter parking. City-wide adoption of e-scooters also relies on mobility behavior change, with people actively choosing to travel by scooter over car and taxi. To unlock the potential of scooters, cities and governments need to implement policies that address these challenges. Clear regulation needs to be put in place to encourage responsible and sustainable behaviour, particularly in regards to parking and general safety.
Paris, again, is leading the way in Europe when it comes to regulation. Last year, the city introduced regulations, which include only one rider per scooter, a no headphones rule and a capped speed of 25 km/h. It’s also the first European city to have dedicated micromobility parking, with over 2,500 parking hubs put in place.
Cities can also accommodate e-scooters by aiming to reduce the number of scooter companies allowed to operate and by giving priority to those with the highest sustainability standards.
Data sharing could provide cities with insights into how to improve infrastructure and regulation. For example, trip location data could be used to enforce parking and gather information on the length and nature of user journeys. When used in combination with emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, cities can gain insights into charging efficiencies and use location data to retrieve lost or stolen scooters. Likewise, telematics data could be used to reward safe drivers in a similar way to how insurance companies reward safe driving with low premiums.
- As cities across the globe strive to reach CO2 reduction targets, e-scooters are emerging as a sustainable answer to reducing the number of cars on our roads.
- Cities face several challenges in accommodating micromobility in general, and at the heart of potential solutions, lies collaboration.
- Governments and micromobility companies need to work together, using emerging technologies to identify ways of accommodating e-scooters over the long-term.