While the world watches in anticipation as developments in autonomous vehicles, flying cars and hyperloop technology progresses, there is new trend evolving quickly in the urban mobility industry: micro-vehicles. Have you seen these little gadgets roaming around your city? Read on to learn more about micro mobility.
MICRO MOBILITY IN THE CITY
The URBAN MOBILITY Landscape
At present, 54% of the world’s population resides in urban areas. Projections show that by 2050, urbanized areas are expected to receive another 2.5 billion. Cities struggle to to meet the ever growing transportation needs of its citizens, facing issues such as:
Congestion & Parking
Congestion is one of the biggest problems in large urban areas. Today, drivers spend 3 times more time sitting in traffic than they did in the later part of the 20th century. Parking is a huge concern also. On average, drivers searching for parking spaces account for 10% of traffic circulation which adds to daily delays.
Due to traffic congestion, drivers are spending an increasing amount of time commuting between their residence and workplace. Longer commutes can be linked with depression, anxiety, stress and and overall decline is life satisfaction and happiness.
Inadequate Public Transportation
Public transit systems are either over or under used. At peak hours, there is a temporary surge in demand but at other times throughout the day, low ridership enables services to be financially unsustainable. Most public transit systems find it difficult to generate sufficient income to cover operational and capital costs.
It is no surprise that non-traditional methods of transportation are becoming very popular, such car sharing, e-hailing, ride-pooling and the topic of today: micro mobility.
WHAT IS MICRO MOBILITY?
Micro mobility refers to vehicles that are alternative to current, traditional modes of transportation. Micro vehicles include e-scooters, e-bikes, segways and small electric cars, with maybe one or two seats.
Big vehicle manufacturers have noticed this trend and are presently designing and producing micro mobility vehicles, like Honda, which has announced an electric scooter EV-neo. GM has partnered with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. Group to develop the EN-V, an autonomous electric vehicle, that uses vehicle-to-vehicle communications to identify the shortest route available.
WHY USE MICRO VEHICLES?
With consumer preferences changing at a fast rate and a spike in technological advancement, car manufacturers are committed to accommodate the new needs of the modern customer. Micro mobility may be a current trend in the market, but it also has promising benefits for the customer and the city;
No Car Ownership Necessary
Owning a car can prove to be an expensive venture that not many millennials are willing to undertake. The age of car ownership is increasing and with the current alternative methods of transport it is easy to see why.
Environmentally Friendly Technology
Micro mobility uses electric or hybrid vehicles. Being powered by renewable energy means it will produce less carbon emissions.
The advancement in technology has allowed for a generation with more freedom and awareness. The values of society in developed countries have changed dramatically, with equality and conscientiousness at its core. Micro mobility is an appealing alternative because it does not discriminate between class or wealth, it is available to all people in urban areas.
The support that micro mobility has from local government is a huge advantage to its longevity. Cities require mobility and energy solutions that are sustainable, affordable, safe and inclusive and micro mobility offers this to the customer.
CASE STUDY: VELOMETRO
We have been working with the Founders of Vancouver’s VeloMetro Mobility to bring them to their public launch; this exciting company also works in the micro mobility space. In February of this year, VeloMetro launched a fleet of electric-assisted, three-wheeled velomobiles for public use at the University of British Columbia.
The velomobile is cross between a bike and a motor vehicle. They are fully covered but contain handlebars, pedals and breaks. Their solar-powered units have an electrical pedal system that assist the rider up hills and over rough terrain.
One huge advantage of the velomobile is that a driver’s license is not required as it is legally classified as an electric bike. It is an inclusive method of transport, offered to all members of the public. They are also easily accessible through the use of a smart phone with no keys required. At present, VeloMetro offers free membership with a pay-by-minute system.
In 2019 VeloMetro hopes to start expanding its fleet to 300 units that will be available for use in the west end of Vancouver – with the promise of further growth throughout the city.
CHALLENGES FOR MICRO MOBILITY
Like all new ventures into transportation, micro mobility has its challenges to face.
Even though vehicles like the VeloMetro has been classified as an electric bike, it is over 1 meter in width, which is much wider than a traditional bike. For city planners this is an issue – should it be operated in bike lanes or should it share the road like an electric scooter?
Like all vehicle-sharing systems, management of the fleet can be a difficult. Vehicles may not be an equally dispersed or readily available at all points within the city, which could cause issues for the user.
Although the lack of need for a driver’s license means inclusiveness, it also means the operational ability of these vehicles cannot be regulated, which can make them a hazard for public safety. Should people take lessons to equip themselves with road safety and operations knowledge? Will this increase cost and decrease equal opportunity for all citizens?
Micro mobility may be trending, but it also appears to be much more than just a short-term concept. With benefits to the quality of life in urban areas, environmentally friendly and sustainable technology and a clear ethos of inclusiveness, this cost effective mode of transportation could be one answer to the urban transportation crisis.
Interested in learning more about launching a shared micro mobility platform? Get in touch with us here.