Guest Speaker  on Wednesday 25th January was our own, Professor Geoff Rose. Geoff is a professor (retired) with the Monash Institute of Transport Studies located within the Department of Civil Engineering at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. Geoff ‘s research and teaching activities cover sustainable transport, travel behaviour, advanced technology, and transport policy.
  1. What is micromobility?
  • Originally it was simple to classify road users as pedestrians, cars, trucks, bicycles and motorcycles. They were understood and straightforward (over time) to regulate.
  • In 2001 the Segway came along. It didn’t fit a category, was hard to regulate, had no performance or safety standards to meet, but price was high so there weren’t many on the road
  • In 2015, the Beijing-based company, Ninebot, took over Segway and is now the largest manufacturer of e scooters in the world and with that came a booming new global industry to disrupt traffic and vehicular management around the world.
  • The challenges included how to classify and then how to regulate the growing variety of new vehicles including e bikes, e scooters (standing and seated), self-balancing boards, powered skates, non-self-balancing boards, etc. In Australia so far we mostly see e bikes and standing e scooters.
  • The term ‘micromobility’ was developed to encompass this range.
  1. The challenge of regulating micromobility
  • The transport niche for e scooters is particularly in disrupting car use of short trips, ie, thos is particularly in disrupting car use of short trips, ie, those of 1-8 km which makes up 60% of all car travel. So, for environmental, space, cost, etc they could be good option, but they have to be regulated somehow.
  • At present every state and territory in Australia has different regulations. Major issue relates to privately owned e scooters which are widely offered for sale. However, in Victoria, only those with less than 200W power and a max speed of 10kph are legal, and can only be used on private land.
  • In Victoria only shared e scooters in the trial council areas can legally be driven on public bike lanes, shared bike paths and local roads (with speed limits < 60kph). It is illegal to drive an e scooter on a footpath. Bike helmets are also required to be worn and only one person is to be aboard, and they must be at least 18 years old. Maximum speehas been extended for another three months.
  • Geoff provided detail on how the shared e scooter program operates and is paid for via a phone app, QR codes on the scooter and an account.
  • The cost of use is approx. $5/day assuming 1.5 hours riding time
  • the app provides a rich source of data for analysis of the impact and value of the shared e scooter scheme.
  1. Insight into usage of shared e-scooter scheme
  • The city of Launceston ran an e scooter trial previously. It is a linear city of 86,000 people where because of limits to public transport, residents are very car-dependent. Fewer than 2% of people use public transport to get to work compared to 11% in Melbourne.
  • Analysis of data gathered there revealed
    • The avg trip distance was 2.3km
    • Avg trip time was 15 minutes
    • Avg speed was 9kph
    • These results are comparable to other e scooter schemes around the world except in cities where there is a much higher density and usage of public transport (eg Washington DC)
    • Scooter use does not follow typical peak hour road transport trends, rather usage tends to build during the day and peak in the evenings especially on weekends
    • While this suggests they may be used mostly for recreational or leisure time use, they also are used most when bus service availability is low or not available at all
  • Data gathered from the current Victorian trial showed than in a 3-month period
    • Avg trip distance was 1.6km
    • Avg trip time was 11.4 mins
    • Avg speed was 11.4kph
    • The scooters did take trips from cars and public transport, but particularly were used in place of walking (66% of trips), perhaps a downside.
  1. The environmental credentials of micromobility
  • Life Cycle Analysis considers environmental impacts including vehicle manufacture, assembly, transport, use phase, operational services and end of life treatment
  • Key factors are:
    • Life expectancy of e-scooter & e-bike
    • % trips which changed from motorised modes (private car, Taxi, Uber etc): about 20 % of shared e-scooters and e-bikes trips in Melbourne would have used a motorised mode
  • International study drew on rider usage patterns from six cities: Berlin, Dusseldorf, Paris, Stockholm, Melbourne and Seattle
  • Net impact is a reduction in CO2e (t) from shared e-scooter and e-bike use
  • Lot of variability among cities studies which reflects usage (Paris has 4 times more km by
  • shared e-scooters and e-bikes than Berlin) as well as the % shift from motorised modes of transport
  • rider behaviour and management of that in the shared e scooter schemes remains an issue
  • regulation and enforcement require further work especially for private scooters
  • footpath riding is likely to remain contentious
  • there is evidence that shared micromobility vehicles is not only suitable for large cities with extensive public transport systems, but is also proving to be very useful in regional towns and cities
  • while it can help reduce emissions it is not a silver bullet