Image by: Andreas Süß
Typically, when you think of e-scooter sharing you think of them as free floating: Users get to start and end the ride at any given point.Through the app based location system the next customer can then pick up the scooter allowing for optimum usage. That’s what we call sustainable transportation!
We realise that, as often is the case, it is about getting the best of both worlds! The downside of not having actual parking racks is that it might look less organized to the naked eye and by having the racks placed strategically you will actually drive responsible parking behaviour. We want to do it in a way that enables cities to further their public transport systems while at the same time actively reducing car parking spots and hence freeing up space in city centres.
To this end, we have developed and produced the industry’s first e-scooter parking stations in Germany. After multiple successful trials with partners, such as S-Bahn Stuttgart, The Norwegian Institute of Transport Economics and the City of Erlangen we are ready to deploy those beauties wherever the need arises. Actually, we just rolled out the first parking station equipped multimodality station in Berlin last week with our mobility partner Jelbi. If you’re in the German capital you should definitely check them out!
Image: Jelbi team at launch (Andreas Süß)
Why physical parking infrastructure for shared e-scooters works
Shared micro-mobility services are often used for transport to and from certain hotspots – such as tram and bus stations – which leads to a large numbers of scooters being parked around public transit hubs. “In fact, 45 percent of Voi users said in 2020 that they combine e-scooters with public transport”, said Claus Unterkircher, Voi’s General Manager for DACH, referring to a global user survey conducted by Voi.
A whitepaper published by the Bayern Innovativ Think Tank shows that 30 to 35 percent of all e-scooter rides from the local business park connect with public transport stations. And the reverse applies as well: Commuters from adjacent city Fürth park their Voi e-scooters in the vicinity of train and bus stations 25 to 30 percent of the time. To minimise the risk of our vehicles becoming a hindrance to other road users, it therefore makes a lot of sense to have them parked in a set location.
This is where our parking stations come in: Recent study “Parking Solutions for Shared E-scooters” (2021) conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Transport Economics (TØI) and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (SVV) concludes that the use of physical parking infrastructure – such as racks and painted parking spaces – has a positive effect on parking behaviour: Over 50% of the e-scooter riders who ended their trips in the test areas, located in Norwegian cities Oslo and Trondheim, parked inside or near the parking solutions.
Image: Christina Moe Gjerde, General manager Norway, in front of parking racks in Oslo.
The study also finds that convenience and proximity play a role in how effective the solutions are in promoting good parking behaviour; use of both racks and painted parking spaces decreases with distance from a user’s end destination, so they are most effective when placed in areas where people normally end their trips (such as in connection to public transit hubs). User surveys conducted during the test period show that users are only willing to walk 1–2 minutes to park in a dedicated spot.
“There are two key takeaways from this research project. The first is that people want to park responsibly when dedicated parking spots exist, and the second is that this solution only works if there are enough visible and strategically placed parking spots in areas where most people begin or end their e-scooter rides”, said Christina Moe Gjerde, Voi’s General Manager Norway.
The results from the Norwegian parking study (2021) indicate that parking infrastructure dedicated to e-scooters goes a long way in sorting street clutter, while still keeping the free floating model that makes shared micro-mobility services so attractive.
Findings from Erlangen – where we supported the city in the creation of e-scooter parking areas – show similar results: Over 50 percent Voi users who finished their rides at the local town hall parked in one of the designated parking areas. Before we highlighted this zone in our app, the same number was at 0 percent.
Left: Distribution of parked e-scooters at Erlangen town hall before introduction of parking solution. Right: Parking improvement at Erlangen town hall after introduction of parking solution
At the Erlangen train station, which was updated with additional physical infrastructure for e-scooter parking, the numbers are even stronger. 75 percent of our riders now use the suggested parking spot, up from 10 percent before.
“In Erlangen we managed to go from 10 percent to 75 percent of users parking their scooters in the correct area – simply by introducing parking solutions”, said Claus Unterkircher.
Left: Distribution of parked e-scooters at Erlangen main station before introduction of parking solution. Right: Parking improvement at Erlangen main station after introduction of parking solution
Moving forward: Voi calls for cities to allocate more parking space
Voi is now urging municipalities and authorities across Europe to dedicate more parking space and infrastructure for micro-mobility, as research on e-scooter parking clearly indicates that it’s possible to find a solution to clutter while keeping a free-floating parking model for shared e-scooter services. This is a solution that benefits both non-rider pedestrians and the millions of e-scooter users around Europe.