Covid has stopped many of us flying for business and leisure. ‘Think of the positive environmental impact’ is a common refrain in my house. And its true; transport accounts for 16 per cent of greenhouse gases. But aviation accounts for only two per cent and it’s road transport that accounts for a whopping 12 per cent of green house gasses, according to data from authoritative World Resources Institute
The cost, and the environmental impact of driving, are the two biggest reasons young people across the developed world cite for losing their interest in qualifying to drive. The fall in young people passing their test is dramatic. But where I live, and in 100 other European cities, there’s another reason. Electric scooters. Young people have found freedom and adventure another way.
“Before it started, I expected twisted metal and bodies scattered all over the highway”, said Richard McKiernan, traffic management unit boss at the Avon & Somerset Constabulary in England, after a successful six month trial in Bristol last year. "Instead it has been a policing non-event."
So it is with great excitement that a new coalition has formed among some of Europe’s biggest names in micromobility to promote the new form of urban transport across the continent and raise the lobbying power of alternatives to privately owned cars. The Micro-Mobility for Europe (MMfE) coalition’s eight founders are Bird, Bolt, Dott, FreeNow, Lime, Tier, Voi and Wind. They aim to contribute to the development of a coherent policy framework in Europe to help transform urban mobility, with data governance and circular economy as top priorities to ensure that shared micro-mobility is an integral part of EU policy developments in the coming years.
“Micro-mobility has revolutionised urban mobility and established itself as an essential alternative to personal car ownership and use” said Catriona Meehan, co-chair of the coalition and representative of Wind. “The coalition is a key milestone in working together as one industry towards a healthier, more sustainable and less congested future for European cities."
Further collaboration with the North American-based Open Mobility Foundation (OMF) would be a positive next step. The OMF uses Mobility Data Specifications (MDS) that were initially developed by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation to help manage dockless micro-mobility programs including shared dockless e-scooters. The number of discarded discharged e-scooters began to litter sidewalks and beach-side boardwalks and data standards were seen as part of the solution to this teething problem.
MDS comprises of a set of APIs that create standardised two-way communication for cities and private companies to share information about their operations, and that allow cities to collect data that can inform real-time traffic management and public policy decisions to enhance safety, equity and quality of life. More than 50 cities across the United States — and dozens across the globe — already use MDS to manage micro-mobility services.
It’s genuinely thrilling to see so many people, young and old, jumping on shared scooters for the first time since they were six years old. Congestion tumbles, pollution lessens, and finding genuine innovation that improves well-being and joy has to be widely welcomed.