The future is electric, but not as we know it

Following COP26 Transport Day Alan Clarke, senior director of policy for shared e-scooter provider Lime, explains why the move to a two-wheel electric fleet is vital to the future of mobility

We are currently undergoing a revolution when it comes to how people move around towns and cities. From electric vehicles (EVs), on-demand ride-hailing apps and even autonomous cars, the future of transport is certainly changing.

After decades relying on petrol cars, people are becoming increasingly conscious of the mode of transport they choose, and its carbon footprint. With sales of electric vehicles on track to surpass five million units this year, preferences are shifting towards more sustainable, environmentally conscious options.

But while this shift in mindset is a positive start, we shouldn’t forget where the biggest opportunity lies – moving people away from travelling in automotive vehicles altogether. And although EVs are a step in the right direction, they too have their flaws. For example, most require well over a tonne of metal to transport passengers to a destination, and the production of these vehicles has a huge impact on our natural resources.

To create cleaner, healthier cities we therefore need to get people out of cars, and onto other forms of transport that are greener, and more active. In fact, leading officials included active transport in their declaration on electric vehicles at COP26’s Transport Day. This includes increased walking and cycling, alongside the use of e-bikes and e-scooters – and other future light electric options – which will play a vital part in building a carbon-free future.

Of course, exploring new forms of transport means we need regulation that ensures every product is safe for riders and the general public. This can be achieved by working closely with local governments to introduce new initiatives that reflect each individual city’s needs. In London, for example, we have worked closely with Transport for London to introduce safety features such as GPS geofencing technology, which limits e-scooters to a top speed of 12.5 mph, and a stopping distance of 50% (shorter than most e-scooter models).

Every e-scooter is also checked and maintained on a daily basis to ensure it’s in great condition and is safe to be ridden. This level of detail would never be considered or discussed for large vehicles in cities and as a result, these alternative methods of transport are often much more considered when it comes to how they interact with a city and its residents.

The successes of the UK trials of e-scooters have proven the power of good regulation. We urgently need solutions like e-bikes and e-scooters to achieve global sustainability goals, and it’s promising that the UK has made such impressive strides. While electric vehicles can’t transform the future of urban mobility alone, their growing uptake demonstrates that there are ways to regulate and provide better transport options for residents.

The progress made so far towards a greener future of mobility has been astounding, and it is something that should be welcomed and studied by everyone with an interest in improving how we travel in the future.

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