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Ulez expansion is a significant step, but a standardised framework for e-bike parking and riding is also required to maximise its success, says Manish Kharel, general manager of Lime in London.

London’s efforts to improve air quality and encourage people to use sustainable modes of transport has been nothing short of ambitious. The city is leading the country, continent, and, indeed, the world in creating a healthy environment for people to live and work.

Last week’s expansion of the Ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) to all London boroughs is just one example. It sits alongside the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan’s ‘Streetspace Plan’ to increase cycling, and the expansion of bike lanes and low-traffic neighbourhoods. All these policies are transforming our city for the better.

Impact on air quality

Since it was introduced in 2019, Ulez has had a drastic impact on London’s air quality. It has led to a reduction of around 800,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions from vehicles across London – the equivalent of taking 1.1 million flights from London to New York.

It has also succeeded in prompting people to use their cars less. According to a Transport for London (TfL) report, people were driving 60 per cent fewer non-compliant vehicles within the Ulez a year after its expansion to the North and South Circular roads.

The new expansion is expected to reduce NOx emissions from cars by nearly 10 per cent in outer London, and reduce PM2.5 exhaust emissions from cars in the same area by nearly 16 per cent. Without its introduction, it would have taken 193 years from 2016 for London to meet legal pollution limits for nitrogen dioxide. But we’re now on track to reach this milestone by 2025.

Green transport alternatives

But in order for it to encourage even more people out of cars, we need to make sure we are offering enough green transport alternatives to plug the gaps. More shared transport that encourages alternative journeys and offers connections to public transport will be vital in achieving this.

The good news is Lime is already filling some of these transport gaps – around 40 per cent of our e-bikes are available in areas with lower public transport availability. Our wide coverage improves residents’ connectivity to other areas of the city. Historically, these boroughs have been more reliant on cars for this very reason.

Additionally, 97 per cent of the London population living within Lime’s service areas are typically within a two-minute walk of a Lime e-bike (only around 7 per cent of Londoners live within the same distance of tube and rail stations).

A standardised framework for e-bike parking and riding throughout London is now the next step to get more people to use e-bikes to travel across London and help make Ulez more effective. Moving to one single framework with dedicated parking bays – the recent report by Steer estimates approximately 10,000 would be sufficient – will help simplify the process of taking trips across boroughs, which currently each set their own individual parking and riding rules.

Micromobility company collaboration

This pan-borough consistency will improve the likelihood of a significant shift towards alternative modes of transport as Ulez expands by reducing friction for riders with one set of rules to follow. Riders need to be able to start and end their journey in a tidy manner, but also conveniently in locations across the entirety of London.

London is successfully using the ‘stick’ to move people away from polluting methods of transport like cars. But it now needs the ‘carrot’ to enable people to choose more sustainable methods, like shared e-bikes. This will require close collaboration between TfL, local councils, and micromobility companies to develop an effective framework to make London’s streets greener, and healthier for everyone who uses them.


Autor(en)/Author(s): Manish Kharel

Quelle/Source: Smart Cities World, 13.09.2023

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