News & Events

May 2022

The Micromobility Revolution

There is no denying that the way in which people access services and facilities, and the movement of goods need to change to meet the net zero target by 2050. The UK’s sixth Carbon Budget sets an ambitious climate change target, cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to the 1990 level. Whether or not there is confidence in these targets being met, within the development industry there is significant scope to utilise new approaches and technologies to help deliver this common goal.

Surface transport is the largest emitting sector contributing a staggering 25% of the UK’s carbon generation. Emerging mobility technologies and concepts, such as electric scooters (e-scooters), mobility hubs, demand responsive transport and drones, could play a significant role in minimising the carbon impact of travel associated with development.

In the City of Bristol, e-scooters are now an integrated component of the movement network. They provide a realistic and convenient alternative to driving a car or ordering a taxi and can also be used as part of a longer journey.

West of England Combined Authority (Bristol and Bath) is one of 31 regions in England where it is legal to use e-scooters hired through a government trial. Since launching in October 2020, Bristol e-scooters have replaced more than a million short car journeys and saved around 700 tonnes of CO2. Similarly, a survey of e-scooter riders in Birmingham confirmed that 57% of riders had replaced their car journey with a e-scooter. In Cambridge, the surge in e-scooting has resulted in around 191,000 short car journeys being replaced and has saved nearly 100 tonnes of CO2. The evidence shows that e-scooters provide a significant opportunity to reduce surface transport emissions and assist with the fight against climate change.

Questions have been raised widely about the safety of the e-scooter, however a recent study undertaken by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) finds that collision rates (collision per million miles travelled) for e-scooters are five times lower that bicycles and nine times lower than motorcycles. The study also shows that almost all of the reports inciting e-scooters happened in areas where there was no rental scheme in operation, further suggesting the greater safety of rental e-scooter schemes in comparison to cycling and motorcycling.

At present it is illegal to use private e-scooters on public roads, so the recent announcement from the Transport Minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton in the House of Lords that the government has firm plans to create a new independent vehicle category and legalise the use of e-scooters on public roads through the Transport Bill is greatly welcomed. With the law changing, eScooters could soon be an important component of mobility strategies of new residential and mixed use developments.

This new category will be a low-speed, zero-emission vehicle category that is independent from the cycle and motor vehicle categories and it will not be limited to e-scooters.

The announcement is a big step forward in embracing modern and clean solutions to integrate into movement networks and enhance our choice of travel. We must embrace new technologies and concepts if we are to meet climate targets, and light, zero-emission vehicles such as e-scooters can provide significant economic, social and environmental benefits.