Coming together to enhance quality of movement in urban areas
Micromobility solutions are already an everyday reality in major cities. However, their appearance raises both excitement and questions in equal ways among users, decision makers, public transport operators. As they gain prominence as the next big thing in urban mobility, Estonian ridesharing company Bolt offers insights about their recent entry into the micromobility market and a vision for future developments in this field.
There is no need to hide it – this conversation could first appear as one of the most classic cases of turkeys voting for Christmas (or for Thanksgiving, if you are reading from the US). But leaving idioms and culinary traditions aside, such kind of worry may soon result to be unconvincing, if not far-fetched. Here at Ridango, indeed, we believe that micromobility providers should be regarded as allies to make moving around in cities more sustainable.
Small powered electric cars, electric bicycles, scooters – they all subscribe to the developing galaxy of micromobility solutions. Although in some cases people may own their micromobility vehicles, sharing systems gained ground in many cities also with dockless scooters and bicycles, accessible through mobile apps. As a valid alternative to short car-based trips, or as an option to reach and move from public transport stops, they enjoy growing popularity across the globe, from the US to Europe and Asia.
While users are showing interest and enthusiasm over the deployment of electric scooters, PT operators and city governments need to dig further into the advantages that such means of transportation can bring. Micromobility solutions offer a great opportunity to complement traditional mass transit systems. They can contribute to tackle the enduring first-mile/last-mile problem, increase access to public transport, and improve the quality of commuters’ experience in urban areas. Noble goals Ridango has always been committed to, through partnerships and innovation. But we’re not alone.
Micromobility to complement public transport
Estonian ride-hailing company Bolt, now engaged also in food delivery and micromobility, has recently launched its scooter sharing service across Europe. Starting with Paris in the second half of 2018, and with Madrid in April 2019, this year’s midsummer days have seen the Bolt-branded e-scooters appear also in Tallinn and Riga, Pärnu, Vilnius, and Kaunas. To find out more, we spoke to Dmitri Pivovarov, Principal Product Manager at Bolt overseeing the scooter sharing service. Exploring the company’s commitment to micromobility, he explains how these solutions are set to change the way of getting around in large cities.
“City transportation is currently poorly organised and inefficient. Most cities in the world have more than 8 parking spaces per each car, and cars are in use only 5% of the time. A two-ton private vehicle is arguably the best way to move a single person around the city. We believe that people will increasingly give up on personal vehicles and shift towards ride-hailing and shared micro-mobility,” Pivovarov says.
It seems natural, then, that micromobility solutions can also enhance accessibility to other established ways of moving around in cities. “In the future, public transport will become closely coupled with ride-hailing and micromobility platforms. Some trips make more sense on a car, some on a bus or on a scooter. The most convenient solution for people is to have one app that is able to recommend different ways to reach your destination based on time, price and other criteria,” Pivovarov continues.
“Moreover, technology can provide a huge increase in public transportation efficiency. For example, we know that 1 in 4 rides on our platform is shorter than 3 km, which is a perfect distance to cover with a light electricity-powered vehicle. Platforms like Bolt have a unique understanding of how millions of people move around cities, when and where they want to go. This data can be used to improve the public transportation grid,” he states.
Towards a multi-modal transit system
Paired with efficient systems of public transport, micromobility solutions can contribute to the creation of multi-modal transit systems. In such a framework, a number of various travel options are offered to passengers, while integrated payment methods easily allow people to shift from e-scooters to busses, from trains to bike rental services.
However, cooperation with public authorities and existing operators turns out to be crucial for a successful outcome – an element that Ridango knows cannot be overlooked. In an enlightening report recently published, major consultancy Deloitte laid out the variety of approaches that public authorities have experimented in confronting and regulating the activity of micromobility operators. Bolt, in this sense, made no exception.
“Our experience has shown that it is crucial to have a good working relationship with the local government in order to be able to target the pain points in city traffic, and provide best value to the people,” Pivovarov explains.
“Light electrical vehicles help address important urban transport issues, such as congestion and CO2 emissions. It is important that regulations keep up with the technology, and we’re always eager to work with local authorities to shape the good practices and help define regulations that would serve the citizens,” Pivovarov says.
The harmonization of all stakeholders’ interests – city governments, people, service providers – is crucial to develop services that work for everyone. However, beyond issues of concertation and micro-diplomacy, the integration of e-scooters and the likes can help tackle even bigger, long-standing issues. As Pivovarov puts it, “By bringing scooters to the cities, we can solve two things at once: reducing car rides as well as saving time and money for the people. Ultimately, this will also contribute to a decline in car ownership and less congested cities.”
Adapting and delivering based on citizens’ needs
The micromobility revolution presents itself as one of those cases where innovation can quickly change people’s habits. Moving around in cities and commuting make salient parts of citizens’ experience in urban conglomerations. With more ambitious targets in environmental policy at the EU level, and the opportunity to further democratize access to mass transit, micromobility and efficient public transport can truly make our cities smarter.
Developing multi-modal transit networks carries both a business and a social value, but only when travel options are centred around the human scale. We need to adapt to citizens’ changing needs and demands for a better mobility in urban areas, and a better quality of life. Scooters and IT solutions enable proactive mobility governance – in this way, once again, innovation can operate at the service of the everyday.