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Thursday, 18.04.2024
eGovernment Forschung seit 2001 | eGovernment Research since 2001

Manish Kharel, general manager for Lime, says 2024 must be the year micromobility infrastructure develops in line with demand to meet active and green travel goals.

2023 saw London double down on its commitments to green policy and active travel. With more bike lanes and low-traffic neighbourhoods implemented across the city last year, and the ultra low emission (Ulez) zone expanded across all London boroughs, there are mounting disincentives for travelling by car.

The outcome has been both clear and significant. The number of daily cycle journeys in London increased to 1.26 million in 2023, up by 6.3 per cent since 2022. Meanwhile, Lime’s trips in London have increased by an average of more than 10 per cent each month since 2019, and our vehicles have now been used by over 1.25 million people. More people are turning to a greener, convenient, and often more cost-effective mode of transport for their daily journeys.

So if last year was the start of a green transport revolution, in which cycling – specifically shared e-bike schemes – got more Londoners moving around our capital sustainably, what’s next? The signs are showing we’re just scratching the surface. In 2024 we can only expect bike lanes to keep getting busier.

Cycling will firmly set itself in London’s culture

There was a common assumption that shared e-bikes and e-scooters were primarily used by tourists looking for an enjoyable way to soak in the city. But our rider data shows that people use rental e-bikes for a multitude of reasons. Our biggest use case in London today is commuting – almost 40 per cent of all Lime journeys.

As we look to 2024 we expect this to increase further as key commuter hubs like the City of London transform their infrastructure and normalise cycling. A great example of this is Bank Junction – one of London’s busiest interchanges. The famous intersection is currently being redesigned to suit a new wave of cyclist and pedestrian footfall, including wider pavements and more bike lanes, which will only facilitate and encourage even more commutes on two wheels.

Outside commutes, around a quarter of rides are used as a way to get to social outings. Perhaps unsurprisingly, one Harry Styles concert in Wembley last year led to a 195 per cent surge in Lime usage in the area. What this means is that people are no longer thinking of e-bikes as a novelty, or recreational, but as a key part of daily lives and a practical, realistic way to get to events and social outings that are sometimes less connected or accessible to public transport hubs.

Our data shows 20 per cent of Lime riders in London had never cycled before they started using Lime e-bikes. Whether it is their commute, sporting events or shopping; all journeys lend themselves to e-bikes as an alternative to crowded journeys and indirect routes. Residents are increasingly embedding cycling into their day-to-day lives.

Cycling demographics will continue to expand

Similarly, micromobility was initially perceived to be a mode of transport popular with a primarily younger audience. In reality, Lime’s average UK rider is now 33 years old, and almost a quarter of our riders are over 40. One user even told us that his dad, in his 70s, used to be an avid cyclist, but no longer has the fitness for pedal bikes. Our e-bikes now help him travel around London on two wheels again like he is “in his 20s again”.

We have also seen women become more regular cyclists because of shared e-bikes. Seventy-one per cent of Lime female riders were not regular cyclists before using Lime e-bikes, compared to 52 per cent of male riders. Despite this, a significant gender ‘pedal gap’ still exists in the UK. Lime’s recent report found that women cycle almost half as much as men every month. It also highlighted that night-time riding was a particular barrier for women, with poorly lit roads (46 per cent), isolated cycle routes in quiet areas (41 per cent), antisocial behaviour (36 per cent), and fear of harassment from other road users (34 per cent) named as the biggest issues.

In order to get more people cycling in 2024 and beyond, it’ll be more important than ever to improve conditions for women. We’re calling for solutions in three areas: infrastructure (creating safe spaces for women on our roads at night in the form of parking bays in well-lit areas), integration with public transport (ensuring women have access to cycling in the areas they need them at night), and innovation (creating technologies to support such as a follow my ride features).

Micromobility infrastructure needs more space to meet demand

This definitive boom in cycling gives strong indication that sustainable and active travel is more than just a fad. It’s here to stay. It was encouraging to see so many strides taken to improve cycle lane infrastructure last year to help facilitate this. Transport for London (TfL) opened 10 new low-traffic cycleways in London in July, the largest batch ever launched at once.

But we now need to see the same progress made with micromobility parking infrastructure. To meet demand and ensure that cycling efficiently works in harmony across London’s transport network, we’ll need to see more parking spaces and designated bays for both shared e-bikes and personal bikes on our streets.

Right now, our industry’s biggest challenge is overcrowded parking bays causing obstructions on streets. This overcrowding is caused by record usage levels and high levels of parking compliance by riders. We are currently working with our partner boroughs to identify and fund more parking locations to reduce pressure at existing locations. That’s why it’s crucial that we continue to work with local councils to develop infrastructure to support e-bike usage in central areas.

Greater commitment is needed to active travel across the UK

While there has been great progress made with regard to cycling infrastructure – particularly in cities like London – we need to continue accelerating progress to improve accessibility to active forms of travel in 2024 across all parts of the UK. The pressure on the government to improve infrastructure not only comes from cyclists themselves but also from environmental and community groups.

In a letter sent to the Secretary of State for Transport at the end of last year, community groups, charities and businesses, including Lime, set out a five-point plan for how the government can continue to support active travel in the UK’s cities. Signatories included Living Streets, Women in Transport, and the Transport and Health Science Group, among others.

The letter outlined five key policies that will help unlock the benefits of shared mobility and active travel, including how active travel funding must, as a minimum, be restored to previous levels to meet the target for 50 per cent of journeys in UK towns and cities to be walked or cycled by 2030. Only this way will we see this cycle revolution take hold of all UK cities, not just London.

Shared e-bikes are becoming an integral transport option for residents of UK cities, in the same way pedal bikes boomed in the early 2010s with the arrival of TfL cycle hire in London. We are only going to see this grow. It’s crucial that 2024 is the year that micromobility infrastructure develops in line with demand. We need to get to a place where there is enough space for both personal and e-bikes on our streets and help riders of all demographics effectively access these services if we’re to meet active and green travel goals.


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

Quelle/Source: Smart Cities World, 07.02.2024

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