Micromobility proves its worth for post-pandemic cities - Cities Today


Until recently, the relationship between micromobility providers and cities has been, at worst, rocky – characterised by rows over streets cluttered with abandoned scooters, and arguments over rights to ridership data – and at best, an arm’s length stand-off, with officials setting the rules which private companies are expected to follow.

But the COVID-19 crisis could see this dynamic evolve towards more cordial partnerships.

Several North American transport leaders at a recent Cities Today Institute roundtable agreed that the pandemic has highlighted how micromobility services such as rented scooters and shared bikes are now a crucial part of the transport mix in many cities, and therefore may need to be better supported as such.

During COVID-19 lockdowns, micromobility companies, alongside public transport operators, have seen their ridership plummet, though many offered services to help essential workers continue to get around. As restrictions ease, micromobility is no longer just a complement to public transport but, for now at least, an alternative to it in many cases.

In the UK, for instance, regulations were fast-tracked this month to allow trials of rental e-scooters and in the US, New York City Council voted to approve a dockless bike and scooter pilot programme after years of debate.

UK Transport Minister Rachel Maclean commented on the UK move: “As we emerge from lockdown, we have a unique opportunity in transport to build back in a greener, more sustainable way that could lead to cleaner air and healthier communities across Great Britain.

“E-scooters may offer the potential for convenient, clean and cost-effective travel that may also help ease the burden on the transport network, provide another green alternative to get around and allow for social distancing. The trials will allow us to test whether they do these things.”

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