Micromobility in limbo: Takeaways from Paris and LA

Micromobility in limbo: Takeaways from Paris and LA

Electric scooters were first introduced to the public as shared electric scooters Scene from five years ago With a vision to get people off their cars and onto greener modes, this company is promising. Yet despite VC money is worth billions And There is a lot of hypeThe future promised by micromobility companies has not yet arrived.

In cities like Paris, Most people don’t want to replace car trips With shared e-scooter jaunts, you can make meaningful connections with other riders. However, scooters are expensive and not affordable for equitable access and last-mile transit connections. Bird public disclosures And Helbiz It is extremely difficult to achieve profitability, as our experiences have shown. Additionally, scooter companies are finding it increasingly difficult to sustainably operate in cities that allow shared e-scooter businesses.

Traffic flow and Carbon emissionsAlternatives to cars are needed. Are shared e-scooters the solution to this problem, or another flimsy option? What has shared micromobility brought to cities?

We decided to look at two cities that have been at the forefront in the e-scooter revolution. Los Angeles And Paris. The former has a reputation for being a bit of an open-for-all with a laissez faire capitalist regulatory approach that allows multiple operators compete for rides or space. The latter has some the most stringent regulations in the game, including limited operator permits. In fact, they are still considering banning shared-e-scooters.

TechCrunch was told by David Zipper, visiting fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Taubman Centre for State and Local Government. “Paris is dense and has a great Metro. It is possible that scooters in Paris are replacing other forms of transportation that are greener. LA is different. It is so car-dominated and hungry to find alternatives to the automobile.

Two scooter operators, despite their apparent hunger, – Lyft And Spin – Recently left Los Angeles, blaming the lack of favorable regulations and too many competitors, which made it difficult to make a profit. There are six operators left in LA: Bird, Lime Veo, Superpedestrians, Wheels (now owned and operated by Helbiz), as well as Tuk Tuk who is a new entrant.

Both cities are sprawling and dense, but both have e-scooters. The key question is why? Which market is the best?

Paris: To ban or to not ban?

People wearing protective facemasks walk or ride their electric scooters past the statue of Marechal Joffre, Paris, May 19, 2020. This is as France relaxes its lockdown measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus).

On May 19, 2020, people walked or rode their electric scooters past the statue of Marechal Joffre in Paris. (Photo by Thomas COEX/AFP via Getty Images

Paris is the city you would think shared e-scooters will thrive in. It is home to one of Europe’s most densely populated cities. The majority of households don’t have a car and even those who do own one, they only use it rarely. Paris is led by Anne Hidalgo (Mayor), who advocates for the reclamation public space from roads and cars for a more liveable, 15-minute city. Hidalgo has also made streets walkable and opened new bike lanes.

Yet, Paris is in the middle of it all. Potentially banning 15,000 of its shared e-scooters As Politicians from multiple parties Call on Hidalgo to not renew the contracts of Tier, Dott, and Lime when they expire in Feb 2023. She is expected to make her final decision within hours. Rumours She is floating around with things she already has.

Paris has been a major market for the escooter industry in general, but the city has become hostile to the vehicles, citing Safety incidentsSome of these are listed below They were fatal.

Paris has been responding to safety concerns over the years with more strict regulations. The following regulations were in effect last summer The death of someone Paris established “slow zones” to allow scooters to be driven in Paris after a woman riding a scooter near the Seine hit her. One year later, the The whole city became a slow zoneThe speed of the shared e-scooter is just over 6 miles an hour.

Despite these strict regulations, the city is not yet ready to say goodbye to shared scooters forever.

Shocked. Appalled. Frustrated. These were my feelings when I first heard about the ban. What if there are some accidents? Car accidents happen all of the time! Boohoo for your complaints about scooters riding on sidewalks! Make bike lanes safer!

However, it is possible that scooters don’t provide the value cities need, such as limiting car use, according to scattered statistics.

TechCrunch was told by Lime that 90% of its Paris fleet is used every day and that a scooter trip begins in Paris every four seconds. Over 1.2 million scooter riders, 85% Parisians, took 10 million rides across all three operators in 2021. Lime estimates that this could have replaced 1.6 millions car trips. Could haveThey did, however.

One study starting in 2021 It was found that Parisian e-scooter riders are mostly men between 18 and 29 years old, have a high education level, and often use a scooter to save time on travel. 72% of the riders in the study said that they switched from cars and walking to use e-scooters. Another survey Many scooter riders in France found that shared scooters were more likely to replace walking trips than any other mode of transport.

These results are not limited to Paris. A survey Customers who had registered with five different e-scooter apps in Norway between the fall of 2021 and 2023 found that e-scooters were more popular than walking in almost all situations, except for night rides. The study found that e-scooters can replace cars with longer escooter trips, provided the user is male and the escooter is privately owned.

What is preventing travelers from moving away from cars? Paris is walkable, so many people wouldn’t need a car. Public transportation is sufficient. Maybe taxi drivers and car drivers who want to become scooter riders need to take more time to adjust to the idea of scooter riding as a way to live. Maybe scooters aren’t reliable for long distance travel.

Fluctuo, a data aggregator for shared mobility data, found that the average scooter trip in Paris was 2.67 km in July 2022, and 2.53 km in November. It’s a long enough trip that you might not want to walk it, but it’s too short to drive it in Paris.

They are very popular in Paris, regardless of whether they get people out of their cars. A September Ipsos survey, commissioned by Lime, Dott and Tier, found that most Parisians agree that e-scooters are an integral part of daily mobility and are consistent with City Hall’s wider transport policy. A majority of respondents (68%) stated they are satisfied with the amount of self-service scooters available in Paris. However, a quarter of those polled said they would like to see more.

A petition started by a Parisian has received more than 2,000 signatures in response to the ban. 19,000 signatures In opposition

TechCrunch was told by Hannah Landau, Lime’s communications manager for France & southern Europe, that a ban on Paris would make it a global outlier.

She stated that “no major city in the world has ever banned shared e-scooter services.” “In fact, the main global trend today is cities renewing or expanding their programs – like London – or with more vehicles or larger service areas (NYC and Washington D.C.), she said.

Tier, Dott, and Lime have presented a range of measures to Paris’ city council. They claim that they will address safety concerns and renew scooter licenses next year. A joint campaign to raise awareness on traffic laws; a fine system using cameras on public roads; expanding the use of scooters. Scooter ADAS To stop sidewalk riding, and to equip scooters with registration plates.

Paris is the only major city to have imposed a blanket ban on scooters. However, other cities have shown an interest in scooter limits, including Stockholm, Tenerife (Spanish), Boston College And Fordham University.

– Rebecca Bellan

Los Angeles: City of Autos

A shared scooter was parked on a sidewalk, Koreatown, Los Angeles.

A shared scooter was parked on a sidewalk at Koreatown, Los Angeles’ central neighborhood, on December 29, 2022.

Let’s bring a few more wheels into the discussion. Yes, I am going to get personal about the automobile. Get ready!

Automakers rewired American citiesOver the past centuryIt’s a fact that we all suffer for it, especially Angelenos. Famously, gas-powered cars, SUVs, and trucks Los Angeles’ arteries are clogged. They Make sure you don’t mess with the airDriving Climate change And Health issues alike. PlusI was innocently looking for a nearby Ramen joint when an SUV driver drove past me. You see, it was personal!

All of this is to say, as an occasional driver, grudge-bearing pedestrian, and the kind who bellows “I’m walking here!” in a vaguely New York accent, that my heart breaks when micromobility operators bail out cities like Spin, Bolt, and Lyft did in LA.

This is not because I don’t ride scooters often, and it’s also not because scooters are scarce. I can find many Limes and scooters just a block away from my central LA apartment. Links On sidewalks and in the crooks on curbs. I want cars to be reined in to balance the city around public transportation, walking, biking, and even scooting. What future does scooters and the like have in this city, given the recent exits? Bird’s financial difficulties To boot?

It all depends on who you ask. Lime, at least one operator, says that things are better than ever in Tinseltown. According to a spokesperson, Lime’s largest American market is Los Angeles.

Although Lime acknowledged LA’s shortcomings in scooters, including its sprawling geographic geography, the spokesperson compared 2022 to a “wow” moment that demonstrated how “micromobility was here to stay.” TechCrunch reached out to Lime for more information about its LA operations. The company did not respond to TechCrunch’s request for financial details. Lime is privately owned, so we don’t have as much information as Lyft or Bird.

Lime’s experience with LA may not be typical. TechCrunch was told by Lyft and Spin that they needed to make long-term, new deals with local governments in order to return to the city. “In a nutshell, the challenge with LA is its open vendor market without any vehicle cap,” Spin’s chief executive Philip Reinckens stated in an email to TechCrunch. “This had caused an imbalance in vehicle supply to rider demand because operators over-saturated the market.”

Reinckens stated, “A long-term agreement for limited operators would be necessary to consider reentry.”

Santa Monica, a city on the coast of Los Angeles County, seems to be already in agreement with this approach. Santa Monica plans to reduce the number of scooter operators to four next year. Only one to two.

Zooming out: The Greater Los Angeles area has a mixed reputation Despite the popularity of cyclists, officials have shown some willingness lately to accommodate other vehicles. A few interesting public initiatives are underway, including recent efforts to promote cycling in. South LA, North Hollywood and San Pedro. Although it’s not a revolution, it could make the city safer for all lightweight modes, including e-scooters.

LA’s scooter-free-for-all seems to be destined for consolidation, leaving fewer riders with a whole. There is a lot of ground to cover. However, Paris doesn’t seem to have any shared e-scooters at all.

– Harri Weber

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