Micromobility: The future of urban transport?

Geordie Morrison, Robert Liao, Ben O'Keeffe

The UK Government and local authorities should consider the wider social, environmental and health benefits of micromobility schemes – such as e-scooters and bikes – and not focus narrowly on funding considerations, argues this new report.

Using new polling and case studies, alongside insights from industry experts, Micromobility: The future of urban transport? outlines how the most successful schemes, as well as public opinion, favours a model of close collaboration between the transport body commissioning the service and the provider.

If the two-thirds of people who have never used a e-scooter, bike or e-bike are going to be encouraged to use the environmentally friendly means of transport, local authorities and micromobility companies are going to have to work very closely to address concerns.

The Institute’s nationally representative survey – which was completed in collaboration with the independent pollsters Survation – sought to elicit responses as to why people choose not to use micromobility services, rather than give a positive hue to the current situation. The polling found that:

  • Safety concerns were held by 42% of people
  • Over a third of people say price of micromobility schemes are prohibitive
  • 43% of people say they are poorly connected to other transport services
  • And a majority believe them to be an inconvenience when vehicles are left or ridden on pavements

Under the UK Government’s current e-scooter trial, all schemes are delivered through what is known as a ‘concession model’. This means local authorities give e-scooter providers licence to operate within an area and allow them to collect revenue and manage the service with little direct intervention or oversight.

More established bike and e-bike schemes are delivered both through ‘concession models’ and through ‘managed service models’. The managed service model means there is a closer relationship between the local authority and the provider of the scheme. It enables the commissioning local authority to ensure that docking stations are located on the basis of transport accessibility, equity, and optimised integration with other transport services, as well as more to effectively control prices for users, all areas which will drive usage according to the Institute’s polling.

As such, the paper’s key recommendation focuses on how local authorities and other transport bodies should focus their efforts on delivering micromobility schemes through a managed service model.

Popular schemes that prioritise accessibility and affordability include Paris’s Vélib' Métropole bike sharing service where membership is subsidised and costs €8.30 (£6.91) a month for e-bike and pedal bike access and London’s Santander Cycle Hire which provides membership for £7.50 per month; by contrast, concession model-operated services in the UK and Europe can charge over £7 per hour. In both cases the schemes are tightly woven into the fabric of the city.

The paper also makes further recommendations relating to the marketing of the environmental and health benefits of micromobility schemes, as well as working with local communities to ensure widespread community support, not just from users.

Read the full report here

Download the full report
Using new polling and case studies, alongside insights from industry experts, 'Micromobility: The future of urban transport?' outlines how the most successful schemes, as well as public opinion, favours a model of close collaboration between the transport body commissioning the service and the provider.

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