Micromobility is taking many cities by storm. We’re taking a look at the pros and cons and what it means for how we move around our urban centres.
What is it?
Micromobility is an approach to transport that utilizes light-weight forms of transportation. Examples include bicycles and electric scooters that are available from publicly accessible renting schemes. They can be accessed and left at points around a city, and can be rented for short or long term use. Over the past few years, they have become a familiar sight and a popular means of traffic for many city residents.
In the UK, they have only recently been legalised, following several trial programs. This means that London residents now can choose to move around the city via electric scooter as the scheme increasingly takes hold.
The evidence from countries that adopted micromobility solutions earlier and with some degree of popularity seems to suggest that an increase in the use of micromobile forms of transport reduces car journeys (or at least has the potential to do so).
Cities are constantly looking for new ways to reduce car use, and micromobility seems to suggest a viable solution that might help achieve this. London has had a congestion charging program since 2003 in an attempt to reduce the number of cars on the roads during peak times.
The Streetspace plan, from the current London mayor Sadiq Khan, aims to make the city carbon neutral by 2030, and as part of this plan, there is a drive to increase the numbers of those cycling 10x, and those walking 5x. It is difficult to see how this can be achieved without a push for more micromobile solutions, including scooters and bicycles.
The impact of micromobility solutions doesn’t end there. There is an argument that micromobile transport may be able to improve accessibility within a city and eventually help create a more equitable city too.
Let’s take a look at how that might work. Micromobile solutions are for the most part affordable, easy to use, and can generally be found in every part of the city. They can also provide a cost-effective transport solution for those from more cut-off neighbourhoods to access other parts of the city for work or for leisure. They close gaps in current public transport systems where they exist.
The implementation and rise of micromobility is not without some degree of controversy. Currently, most cities are not designed to handle the needs of pedestrians, road users and those on an electric scooter. There is a battle between those who need to use the pavements and roads and making sure that safety is the top priority.
The optimum solution is micromobile lanes that run alongside roads and pavements. This means that everyone has their own lane, from cars on the road to pedestrians. In Paris over the past year, efforts were made to create more bike lanes and to repurpose lanes so that they could handle bikes and scooters in larger numbers. One of their major roads, the Rue de Rivoli, has ⅓ of it dedicated to buses, and a further ⅔ for bikes and e-scooters.
However, this takes time, and not all cities currently have the resources to push for such a solution.
In the meantime, many cities and its residents are trying to find a way to ensure there are plenty of accessible options for those looking to move around the city better, while respecting the needs of those using its streets as a pedestrian.
There are also issues with storage and ensuring the scooters and bicycles are not taking over spaces that a community needs to use. They should also not be blocking walkways and other public spaces.
Some cities are combating this by introducing regulations the scooter companies must follow. Just three companies now have permits to work in Paris, and they must use the assigned parking spots. Where there is a will, there is a way.
Just because something is difficult doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to make it work - plotting, trialling and implementing new, more flexible, and more accessible ways to move around the city are important for building a more equal and sustainable urban environment.
Living in London
When considering how far London has come in implementing micromobility in an attempt to reduce air pollution and traffic congestion, you might begin to wonder about living there too. And with Vonder, you're in luck - we have bike storage in some of our living complexes in London (and in Berlin and Warsaw, too). We offer all inclusive flats to rent in London. This means that we provide fully-furnished flats with a wide range of on-site amenities, from cafés to co-working office spaces. We also host community events so that you can meet new people and adjust to life in London easily. Join all-in-one living for all these perks and more.