The International Transport Forum (ITF)* has released a report, entitled Micromobility, Equity and Sustainability, that illustrates the undeniable growth and innovation within the e-scooter and micromobility sector.
Over the last two years, the ITF has addressed the initial concept of reversing car dependency in cities, followed by safety issues. This 2021 report is now addressing the bigger picture and highlighting the significant benefits offered by shared micromobility in cities. The report is a call to action for cities to recognise this growth by adapting urban mobility in order to cater for this rapid change, and emphasises how shared mobility can and is reshaping urban environments in a sustainable way.
“The micromobility sector has matured and innovated at tremendous speed.” – International Transport Forum, September 2021
Accessibility and equity in the micromobility sector
Accessibility and equity are proving to be two of the most important outcomes of having shared e-scooter schemes in cities, according to the report. Cities have a remit to provide public transport to all of their citizens, but this isn’t always possible. In this regard, the ITF recognises that shared micromobility services can fill the gaps and significantly drive a multi-modal movement.
Consequently, the report highlights that cities should promote micromobility in areas that are not currently well served by public transport networks. In order to address this equitable access to movement for people throughout the city, the report also suggests that cities might consider subsidies to service providers so that they can cater for city-wide accessibility.
“The most profound benefit of integrating shared micromobility services into a city’s transport system is to improve accessibility. Micromobility can increase the catchment area of public transport.” – International Transport Forum, September 2021
Equity is a recurrent theme in the report, which shines a light on the fact that the micromobility sector should play an equally important role at the city planning and infrastructure table. “Space is one of the scarcest resources in cities,” the report confirms, adding that there have been “fundamental deficiencies in many cities’ infrastructure, which for decades has prioritised cars at the expense of other modes.” In addition, the report confirms that many authorities have been slow to adopt regulatory frameworks that recognise e-scooters as a means of transport at all, and that it is time for this to change.
Equitable parking for the micromobility sector
Consequently, the ITF is clear on its stance to embrace equitable parking for shared e-scooter users. With this history of car-led infrastructure in cities, the Forum advises “reallocating road and parking space to micromobility users, cyclists and pedestrians.” In short, they emphasise that “getting parking right is crucial”, with additional redistribution of urban space such as widening cycle lanes all part of a movement that is not only fair but also has far-reaching benefits for urban policy.
Regulation should not deter innovation in micromobility
Two other aspects of the report’s recommendations that embrace fairness are around competition and innovation. The Forum, along with micromobility providers, are in favour of regulation. However, the report recommends that there should also be room for innovative micromobility companies to grow and compete. One solution is to have outcome-based regulations linked to specific performance criteria, thus steering away from the traditional model used by many authorities which is to fix fleet caps from the outset. Another solution is to agree on a common set of shared principles across all cities, reducing the regulatory burden on companies. Giving them more time to grow.
“Among others, this year’s ITF report highlights the fact that micromobility can reshape urban mobility by offering a sustainable mode of transport that improves accessibility, which is in line with our vision of creating cities made for living, free of congestion, noise and pollution. Furthermore it recognises that existing data suggests that micromobility benefits far outweigh existing challenges and why it’s crucial for the whole transport system to get the regulatory framework right for micromobility, in order to benefit consumers and the environment.” – Jack Samler, General Manager at Voi UK and Ireland
Cities agree that micromobility enriches urban mobility
The report shares that most city authorities seem to agree that micromobility enriches urban mobility and has the potential to change behaviour and transition to low-carbon urban mobility. This recognition supports the recommendation that If a company proves that its outputs are meeting a city’s targets in terms of accessibility, sustainability and safety, then fleet caps could be dynamic to reward them accordingly. In addition, the report discusses regulatory fees for micromobility providers, and suggests they are set in light of the potential value of micromobility for sustainable mobility. It goes so far as to suggest that authorities consider bearing (the majority of) regulation administrative costs “when justified by the benefits of more widespread use of micromobility.”
Voiager 4 cited as leader in micromobilty innovation
It is clear from the report that the narrative around micromobility has moved from one of trepidation to innovation and recognition. It is clear from the report that the narrative around micromobility has moved from one of trepidation to innovation and recognition. One example of innovation cited in the report is our latest Voiager 4 model. The report recognises the model’s improvements in terms of hardware design, lifecycle emissions performance and operational sustainability due to technology advances.
“We are delighted to have had our latest model, Voiager 4 featured in the ITF micromobility report and being recognised for its high sustainability standards. We are a technology driven company with sustainability and safety at our core, and this is why we continue to be trusted by our city partners and other industry organisations.” – Jack Samler, General Manager at Voi UK and Ireland
*The ITF is a think tank at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). An intergovernmental organisation, it has 63 member countries and plays a vital role in organising global dialogue and research for better transport. The ITF’s Annual Summit is the world’s largest gathering of transport ministers, proffering an important platform for driving engagement and policy change in the transport sector.