Scooters, e-bikes on the road again as lockdowns ease | Daily News


 

Scooters, e-bikes on the road again as lockdowns ease

Electric scooters and bikes are becoming a more popular way to get around cities due to fears of crowds and coronavirus infections.
Electric scooters and bikes are becoming a more popular way to get around cities due to fears of crowds and coronavirus infections.

US: Electric bikes and scooters, dismissed before the pandemic as a curiosity or nuisance, are getting fresh traction in cities seeking new transportation options as they emerge from lockdowns.

Some “micromobility” operators which cut back or shut down during the coronavirus lockdowns are now expanding to meet growing demands.

Shared mobility operators Lime, Bird and Ford-owned Spin report robust growth in cities worldwide, despite a near-shutdown of tourism, as people turn to scooters and e-bikes for commuting or errands.

“People are desperate for open air transportation where they can maintain social distancing,” said David Spielfogel, chief policy officer at Lime, which has relaunched in most of its 100-plus cities.

Spielfogel said city officials have warmed to the idea of micromobility despite a cool attitude just months earlier. Spin recently unveiled plans to launch its shared e-scooters in Cologne and other German cities, and will expand in US cities including Atlanta. Spin said it had seen weekly usage increases of some 30 percent since April with people using scooters for longer periods.

The scooters “are being used now more than ever as a utility rather than for leisurely activities,” said Euwyn Poon, president and cofounder of Spin.

Global scooter operator Bird also said business is looking up, with North American ridership more than double pre-pandemic levels. “Around the world, an increasing number of people are trying micromobility for the first time,” Bird said in a blog post.

In the months before the pandemic, some local officials were decrying dockless bikes and scooters as nuisances creating sidewalk “clutter.” But the pandemic has changed the outlook, with fear of crowds cutting transit ridership by 70 to 90 percent.

“The pandemic has certainly changed the way communities view micromobility,” said Susan Shaheen, co-director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California at Berkeley.

“Anecdotal evidence suggests that a lot of communities are considering micromobility as an important strategy to maintain social/physical distancing as the economy reopens.”

Traditional bicycling is also experiencing a revival in many urban areas, spurred by new protected lanes which may be used by the small electric vehicles as well. Venture-funded firms which cater to tourists and college campuses may only marginally help with post-COVID transportation needs, she said. These services have more value if integrated into transportation systems, Tregoning said.

- AFP


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