E-bikes, scooters and bike sharing compose the upcoming wave of the future for urban transit. Present modes of city transportation, i.e., cars, buses, trains, are not keeping up with the growing population and are only adding to congestion, emissions and delays. City dwellers live in the city to be able to access their life styles faster and easier. They want to get where they’re going quickly without stress and they want to help protect the environment.
Out of need comes opportunity. Micromobility services do wonders in reducing traffic, lowering commute times, improving the air we breathe and saving money. There is no need to own a car or fund car insurance, if that is a priority for you. There is no need to hail a taxi or wear out your shoe leather just for short trips. And, some of the e-bikes and scooters even disassemble to be taken inside for storage.
One particular market of micromobiliy, bike sharing, has really brought bikes, e-bikes and scooters into the limelight. These “share programs” can definitely bring a positive impact to city transportation. Bike sharing is a system of self-service bike stations. Typically, a user can check out a bike or a scooter and ride to their destination, parking it in a nearby docking station. Many are accessed by a mobile app so that you can find a station nearby whenever and wherever you are at any given time.
One micromobility giant in the U.S., Lime, is set to announce its plans to spend millions to increase the size of its e-bike fleet and bring the market into 50 cities worldwide by the end of 2021. It isn’t clear which cities will come first, but it sounds like a bold move, especially considering the big hit the industry took, just like many others, during the pandemic. However, the micromobility market is predicted to expand and investors have already poured billions of dollars into startups since 2015. Hope still remains for a post-pandemic surge in the U.S., with e-bike purchases sharply increasing, as well as the sales of adult bikes and scooters. And, as you can imagine, Asia has experienced an enormous boom as residents begin to live life as usual.
With growth, however, comes a number of challenges hindering complete acceptance of this new mode of transportation. Limited city infrastructure, citywide bans, lack of regulations (both for owners and renters), theft and profitability are all problems that will need to be solved. There has to be a buy-in of all parties to make this a workable concept. As with any new company, those representing this new transportation service have some rough roads ahead. Some companies will fail and some will survive – even thrive. Those who do make it will get the financial backing and legislative support needed to provide a solution to the transportation woes of city dwellers and offer a green alternative to environmentalists.
Have a great weekend!
Source: Mike Consol, The Micromobility Revolution, Real Assets Adviser, May 2021, pp 49-51.