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Edward Webster: The transformative power of micromobility


Edward Webster (CEN Supporter and founder of Micromobility News)

The average car journey in the UK is around 8 miles, while e-scooter trips average just half of that. This presents a huge opportunity to expand transport choice and drive profound change. The rise of micromobility gives us a chance to completely change our streets, our towns and our lives.


Micromobility is defined primarily as personal mobility whose utility is to move its user, with the purpose to offer maximum freedom of mobility through the miniaturisation of the vehicle.


The new wave of lightweight micromobility vehicle technology includes brushless electric motors that have enabled e-bikes, e-cargo bikes and e-scooters to be brought into mainstream use.


Legislation from the 1980s defines what a car is - what is taxed, insured and legally allowed on the road. The definition of regulated vehicles starts at 250 KW/h and anything over a top speed of 15.5mph. While anything below these which isn’t pedal assisted is also defined as a taxable vehicle.


As Baroness Vere recently said in a House of Lords debate, in 2023 the Department of Transport will legislate for micromobility. It will set out a new class of vehicle, including what is likely to be called a 'personal transporter'.


The new 2023 legislation must be brave and go as far as possible to liberalise the laws around these low powered vehicles.


Further, by 2030 all new cars sold will need to be electric. Micromobility offers more choice for getting around, and provides an easy and cheaper alternative for those who don’t have or want a car.

This revolutionary piece of transport, which utilises apps and sharing technology, changes the very nature of mobility in the urban environment as we know it. Data from the UK’s e-scooter trials suggests we’re seeing a switch from short private car journeys to e-scooter rides.


E-bikes are also gaining in popularity. Replacing the majority of single occupant car journeys and reducing the need for parking - parking in urban environments takes up as much as a third of all real estate - could improve our city transport experience. This could be even more impactful for the elderly or disabled, offering a more accessible and affordable option for getting around town.


Micromobility could also be transformative for air quality. Exhaust fumes from cars and congestion on the roads lead to worse pollution levels. If just 1 in 5 short car journeys in London were replaced with micromobility options, we could reduce the worst pollutants in our air by 445 tonnes.


We have the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of our car building heritage by driving cutting edge technology in the development of micromobility. Including the development of standards, safety and robustness.


UK towns and cities will have a chance to radically improve their centres, improving transport solutions beyond the car, hit emission goals and go a significant way to replacing car use with something radically better.

 

Views expressed in this blog are those of the author, not necessarily those of the Conservative Environment Network. If you are a CEN supporter, councillor, or parliamentarian and would like to write for the CEN blog, please email your idea to cameron@cen.uk.com.

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