E-scooters have been revolutionising urban spaces across the world. Over the past year, this two-wheeled, battery-powered vehicle has accelerated through much of Europe - changing the way people travel and meet in amongst large cities.
After a year of various national lockdowns, local authorities have been revaluating how to transform our streets for the better. Such changes will hopefully transform what was once referred to as a ‘concrete jungle’ into a tropic of green spaces, limiting the need for cars and masses of pollution throughout city centres.
Paris, France has been leading the way in Europe, with e-scooters immersed into much of the city. The capital has grappled with air pollution for many years, but it is now becoming a hub for cleaner, shared modes of transport.
Electric scooters were first introduced to the streets of Paris in 2018. Since then, these nippy two-wheelers have mushroomed in popularity, with now over 20,000 scooters in use around the conurbations of Paris.
Recently, Paris Mayor, Anne Hidalgo, who is in favour of e-scooter as a greener travel option, announced plans to create “a city of proximities” – not only between structures but people; a concept called the 15-minute city.
“The 15-minute city represents the possibility of a decentralized city. At its heart is the concept of mixing urban social functions to create a vibrant vicinity.” - Carlos Moreno, professor at University of Paris 1.
This concept is aimed at creating smaller suburbs, requiring less travel time, pollution and favouring the smaller transport options - such as walking, biking or scooting.
Surprisingly, many Parisians do not own a car or rely on one for commuting. Statistics highlight that over 60% of households do not own a car, and only 9.5% use a car for their journey to work - therefore, travelling around on two wheels rather than four aligns parallel with the urban lifestyle.
The rental e-scooter brand, Lime, compiled a study on the environmental impact of their scooters in Paris from 2018-2019, which found some incredible results:
- In one year, Lime scooters have removed 1.2 million car trips which is the equivalent of two car-free days in Paris.
- 1.2 million motor vehicle trips were replaced by e-scooters, avoiding 330+ metric tonnes of CO2 emissions. Read more.
The above study shows the rapid adoption of e-scooters into Paris is helping to make a large-scale and positive impact on emissions and congestion around the city. The general consensus is that when a green alternative mode of transport is there, people will happily swap, especially when it's as convenient, affordable and fun as an e-scooter!
Next up, Barcelona, Spain. A city with the highest vehicle density in Europe - 6000 vehicles per square kilometre - saw the popularity of e-scooters skyrocket over the last few years as rental scooters started popping up around the city.
Entering the electric revolution, Barcelona has approved a new Urban Mobility plan to change, what has historically been, a city made for cars. The plan looks to open more cycling spaces, enhance shared transport such as bus networks and prioritise pedestrians by making widened walkways to create calmer streets.
Barcelona’s mayor, Ada Colau, has been working to transform the dense districts through something called ‘Superblocking’, a concept aimed at creating more green and open urban spaces over the next decade. These spaces will also eliminate traffic from entering and have low-speed limits. The leisure and commuting spaces embrace the green modes of transport such as biking and scooting, encouraging people to gather, meet and do business outside.
“What Barcelona did is not only to block out the cars and the traffic, but also to renovate, redesign and rethink the public spaces of the streets that are now empty and free from cars.” - Antonella Radicchi, soundscape architect at the Technical University of Berlin.
Barcelona's e-scooter culture is not only offering great benefits to its residents, but it positively impacts the environment too. Similarly to Paris, Spain has over 20,000 rental scooters available nationwide, giving the country a fighting chance in reaching its environmental and air-quality goals.
But, of course, it doesn't stop there.
Cities around the USA are also offering clear examples of how e-scooters are paving the way for a greener future, by providing a viable option to cars with zero exhaust emissions.
In the UK, many companies are trialling rental e-scooters in over 50 towns and cities. There is hope they will become legal to use on public land this year*, meaning you’ll be able to use them for your daily commute to work and for leisure purposes too.
*Currently, e-scooters are only permitted for use on private land and not for road use. For more information on the UK electric scooter laws, click here.