Already on the rise prior to the pandemic, the need to ease pressure on (or avoid) public transport will probably see uptake surge, especially for short trips. Micro-mobility offers a unique solution to the first mile/last mile problem, especially in rural areas under-served by public transport.
In Beijing, Mobike, a dockless bike sharing system, has shown that by targeting areas greater than 500 metres from public transport, micro-mobility solutions can nearly double accessibility to jobs, education and health care. And although the UK has a ban on e-scooters, they are now being trialled in four Future Transport Zones – Portsmouth and Southampton, the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), Derby and Nottingham, and the West Midlands – unlocking opportunities across the entire micro-mobility ecosystem.
These quick-start measures are in a testing phase, and may become permanent. They serve as catalysts to more ambitious projects encouraging active travel and improving public spaces. If made permanent and expanded to cover entire cities, this ‘tactical urbanism’ can encourage active travel and lower carbon emissions from the transport sector.
Challenges remain. Ensuring the hygiene of shared devices will be a genuine concern. And micro-mobility traffic will need its own routes to avoid disputes with pedestrians and traditional road-users.
So – what next?
Looking beyond the lockdown, mobility infrastructure would benefit from street re-designs that allow for wider sidewalks or enlarged cycling lanes. In this recent Connected Places Catapult blog Adrian Ulisse, a strategic advisor in the active travel and urban mobility industry, discussed ways in which this extra road space caused by the decrease of public transport from COVID-19 could be used for more active and e-mobility services and the implications of this for cities, pedestrians and transport users alike. Perhaps cities could collaborate with micro-mobility providers to build more micro-mobility friendly street infrastructure, and stimulus packages and investments targeting the infrastructure for EVs should be a part of our recovery.
Horizon 2 – What Next?
Market opportunities in the transitional restart period post-lockdown and pre-vaccine
Disruption to the old flow
Rush hour. Remember that? Over-crowded public transport patiently endured to honour stubbornly inflexible office hours. Peaks and off-peaks still geared very much towards what now seems creakingly archaic: the old 9-5. But that’s all changed now. Flexible hours aren’t anathema anymore. Working from home is now entirely de rigueur. Shopping from home too. Which means disruption to peak and off-peak flows, modes of transport, and the way in which we source and deliver everything we need to the home. Let’s take a look.