From electric scooters to bike share, micromobility innovations are transforming the way we get around. These small-scale, personal mobility options are popping up in cities across the country, providing many with a quicker and cleaner mode of transport across short distances. And while their presence on the city sidewalks and streets has stirred a combination of resentment and delight, their positive impact on lowering carbon emissions is undeniable.
In 2018, micromobility accounted for some 84 million trips, nearly doubling the number of rides from the previous year. This equates to well over 100 million miles traveled without a drop of fossil fuel. Growth is only expected to continue with new brands and options appearing on our sidewalk’s every day. In fact, two of the largest companies in the industry, Bird and Lime, reached billion-dollar valuations faster than any company in U.S. history.
While the concept of micromobility is new to the U.S. relative to many European cities, the early impact on transportation networks is considerable. In particular, greater access to scooters and bike share options has helped tackle the “first mile/last mile” challenge of providing people access to larger public transportation options. While a subway can help move people across the city, getting to the nearest stop is sometimes just out of reach. It’s estimated that half of all micromobility rides begin or end at another transportation option — helping communities gain access to broader public transit opportunities. Additionally, micromobility has the potential to decrease congestion considerably given that 46 percent of car traffic in the US is caused by vehicles on trips less than three miles — distances easily, and more increasingly, covered by bikes and scooters.
Breaking down the micromobility market.
Scooters have come to dominate the roads over the past year, with over 85,000 e-scooters now available for public use in roughly 100 U.S. cities.
In 2018, less than half of micromobility trips were through traditional station-based bike share programs, with six cities accounting for 84 percent of the trips:
- New York City, NY
- Chicago, IL
- Washington D.C.
- Bay Area, CA
- Boston, MA
E-scooter ridership has experienced a similar type of concentration, with 40 percent of all e-scooter trips taking place in:
- San Diego, CA
- Los Angeles, CA
- Austin, TX
What the future of micromobility will entail
In just a few short years, micromobility options have helped communities to address some of their most complex transportation challenges: from endless traffic, to unequal public transit access, to rising carbon emissions. However, continued improvement and collaboration among micromobility companies, city planners, and residents alike is necessary to ensure the growth of a safer, micromobility-friendly infrastructure.
In the meantime, ditching a taxi or rideshare in favor of a scooter or bike will go a long way in helping to meet some of our most challenging sustainability goals. Plus, it’s never been more fun to get where you’re going, while lowering your carbon footprint.