Accessibility highlighted as ‘profound benefit’ of micromobility in new ITF report

The International Transport Forum (ITF) has released a report, Micromobility, Equity and Sustainability, that illustrates the ‘undeniable’ growth and innovation within the e-scooter and micromobility sector.

The report is a call to action for cities to recognise this growth by adapting urban mobility in order to cater for this rapid change and emphasises how shared mobility can and is reshaping urban environments in a sustainable way.

It recognises that “the micromobility sector has matured and innovated at tremendous speed,” and that accessibility and equity are proving to be two of the most important outcomes of having shared e-scooter schemes in cities. Cities have a remit to provide public transport to all of their citizens, but this isn’t always possible. In this regard, the ITF recognises that shared micromobility services can fill the gaps and significantly drive an accessible, multi-modal movement.

“The most profound benefit of integrating shared micromobility services into a city’s transport system is to improve accessibility. Micromobility can increase the catchment area of public transport.” – Micromobility, Equity and Sustainability, International Transport Forum, September 2021.

Equity is a recurrent theme in the report, which shines a light on the fact that the micromobility sector should play an equally important role at the city planning and infrastructure table. “Space is one of the scarcest resources in cities,” the report confirms, adding that there have been “fundamental deficiencies in many cities’ infrastructure, which for decades has prioritised cars at the expense of other modes.”

Consequently, the ITF is clear on its stance to embrace equitable parking for shared e-scooter users. With this history of car-led infrastructure in cities, the Forum advises “reallocating road and parking space to micromobility users, cyclists and pedestrians.” In short, they emphasise that “getting parking right is crucial”, with additional redistribution of urban space such as widening cycle lanes all part of a movement that is not only fair but also has far-reaching benefits for urban policy.

Two other aspects of the report’s recommendations that embrace fairness are around competition and innovation. It says that although regulation is vital in the sector, there should also be room for innovative micromobility companies to grow and compete. One solution is to have outcome-based regulations linked to specific performance criteria, thus steering away from the traditional model used by many authorities which is to fix fleet caps from the outset.

It is clear from the report that the narrative around micromobility has moved from one of trepidation to innovation and recognition. One example of innovation cited in the report is the latest Voiager 4 model of Europe’s leading e-scooter provider, Voi. The ITF recognises the model’s improvements in terms of hardware design, lifecycle emissions performance and operational sustainability due to technology advances.

Jack Samler, general manager at Voi UK and Ireland, said: “We are delighted to have had our latest model, Voiager 4 featured in the ITF micromobility report and being recognised for its high sustainability standards. We are a technology driven company with sustainability and safety at our core, and this is why we continue to be trusted by our city partners and other industry organisations.

“Among others, this year’s ITF report highlights the fact that micromobility can reshape urban mobility by offering a sustainable mode of transport that improves accessibility, which is in line with our vision of creating cities made for living, free of congestion, noise and pollution. Furthermore, it recognises that existing data suggests that micromobility benefits far outweigh existing challenges and why it’s crucial for the whole transport system to get the regulatory framework right for micromobility, in order to benefit consumers and the environment.”

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