Key Takeaways:

Navigating the health, safety and regulatory risks of micromobility
Safety and regulatory challenges must be addressed for micromobility's integration.
Navigating the health, safety and regulatory risks of micromobility
Electric propulsion and autonomy redefine micromobility, enhancing sustainability and safety.
Navigating the health, safety and regulatory risks of micromobility
Building a micromobility strategy may unlock new opportunities for Automotive.

In this article, RSM’s Cem Adiyaman in the Netherlands takes a global look at micromobility’s safety and regulatory challenges, technological advancements, and its integration within transportation ecosystems. From examining the role of governments in fostering its growth to analysing how automotive companies adapt their strategies, Cem considers the transformative potential of micromobility in reshaping urban mobility landscapes, navigating the complexities and future possibilities of sustainable and efficient transportation solutions for all.

What are the safety and regulatory issues around micromobility?

Micromobility introduces a set of safety and regulatory challenges that need addressing to ensure its sustainable integration into urban mobility. Safety concerns include the vulnerability of new users, who may find navigating alongside larger vehicles daunting, particularly on uneven surfaces. Inexperienced riders are at a heightened risk, exacerbated by improper riding behaviours such as ignoring traffic laws, riding under the influence, or not wearing helmets, which significantly increases accident risks. Additionally, the unregulated parking of devices can obstruct sidewalks, posing hazards to pedestrians.

From a regulatory standpoint, the micromobility sector grapples with inconsistencies across jurisdictions, such as divergent rules on speed limits, riding zones, and parking, creating confusion and impeding adoption. The infrastructure, largely designed for motorised vehicles, often does not cater adequately to micromobility, highlighting the need for infrastructure updates and dedicated lanes to accommodate these vehicles safely. Moreover, the sector faces uncertainties around insurance and liability in accidents, underscoring the need for clear regulations to mitigate user hesitancy and encourage responsible usage.

Addressing these challenges requires a concerted effort from policymakers, urban planners, and micromobility providers to establish a coherent regulatory framework, invest in suitable infrastructure, and promote safe riding practices among users. This would ensure micromobility's role as a safe, efficient, and integrated component of urban transportation systems.

What roles will technology, energy and autonomy play in the future of micromobility?

Technological advancements such as electric propulsion and autonomous features are revolutionising the micromobility landscape, offering significant environmental, operational, and safety benefits. Electrification, bolstered by breakthroughs in battery technology, is enhancing the range and reducing the charge times of devices like e-scooters and e-bikes, thus increasing their convenience and reliability for daily use. This shift towards electric power improves operational efficiency and plays a crucial role in reducing urban pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, aligning with broader environmental sustainability goals. Moreover, the integration of autonomous and intelligent systems, including self-navigating capabilities and advanced rider assistance systems (ARAS), is set to elevate safety standards by preventing accidents and ensuring safer navigation in urban spaces.

In parallel, the advent of connectivity and Internet of Things (IoT) integration is transforming user experiences and fleet management, enabling real-time tracking, diagnostics, and seamless interactions between users and services. This technological ecosystem supports the development of shared mobility platforms, further encouraging the adoption of sustainable transport options and facilitating a seamless blend of micromobility with other forms of urban transport. Additionally, a focus on sustainable design and manufacturing, emphasising eco-friendly materials and energy-efficient production, minimises the environmental impact of these devices. As cities adapt their infrastructure to accommodate micromobility, including dedicated lanes and smart city integrations, we are witnessing a transformative shift towards safer, more accessible, and sustainable urban mobility, promising a future where micromobility plays a pivotal role in reshaping our urban landscapes.

Are micromobility and transportation ecosystems possible?

Several cities globally have successfully integrated micromobility into their transportation ecosystems, showcasing innovative solutions to urban mobility challenges. In New York City, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) addresses the "last-mile" connectivity issue by piloting programmes that integrate bicycles and e-bikes with public transportation, providing designated parking near transit stations and considering bike storage options on buses. London tackles traffic congestion and aims to reduce car usage through Transport for London (TfL), which has incorporated dockless e-scooters into the public transport network by establishing designated pick-up and drop-off zones near stations.

Singapore's approach to promoting sustainable transportation and reducing private car use involves the Land Transport Authority (LTA) collaborating with micromobility operators to ensure smooth service integration, including designated parking zones and incorporating micromobility options into public transport apps for real-time tracking. Amsterdam, known for its cycling culture, has seamlessly integrated an extensive cycling infrastructure with public transport. This includes dedicated bike lanes, ample bike parking facilities, and the public bicycle rental system, OV-fiets, which can be combined with public transport through a single OV-chipkaart (The Netherlands’ contactless, integrated ticketing system for all public transport), enhancing the city's sustainable transportation model. These examples highlight the diverse strategies cities employ to incorporate micromobility solutions, improving urban mobility and sustainability.

The role of governments and regulatory bodies in fostering the growth of micromobility 

Governments and regulatory bodies play a pivotal role in nurturing the micromobility sector, balancing the dual objectives of growth and safety. By crafting and enforcing regulations, they ensure that micromobility solutions are integrated safely into urban mobility systems, addressing concerns such as traffic management, vehicle standards, and user behaviour. This regulatory framework is essential for maintaining public safety and instilling confidence in these new modes of transport.

Furthermore, these authorities are instrumental in developing the necessary infrastructure to support micromobility, such as dedicated lanes, parking zones, and charging stations, which are crucial for the practical and safe use of micromobility devices. Beyond infrastructure, policy incentives and public awareness campaigns can encourage adoption, highlighting the benefits of micromobility in reducing congestion and pollution, as well as enhancing urban liveability.

The trend towards embracing micromobility is not confined to major capitals; smaller cities, like Ljubljana in Slovenia, are also actively investing in cycling infrastructure and pedestrian-friendly initiatives, demonstrating a broad-based commitment to sustainable urban mobility across Europe. This comprehensive approach by governments and regulatory bodies fosters a conducive environment for the growth of micromobility, ensuring it is a safe, accessible, and viable option for urban transportation.

How do automotive companies and OEMs adapt their business strategies for micromobility?

Automotive companies and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are strategically adapting to the micromobility wave, recognising its potential as both a complement and alternative to traditional car ownership. Drawing inspiration from innovative concepts like Honda's Motocompo from the 1980s, which has been reimagined as an e-scooter for modern urban mobility needs, these companies are exploring ways to integrate micromobility solutions into their offerings. This shift reflects changing consumer preferences and a broader societal move towards sustainable and flexible urban transportation.

Manufacturers with existing motorcycle or scooter divisions, such as Honda and BMW, are particularly well-positioned to leverage their expertise and infrastructure to develop integrated mobility solutions. These efforts can significantly impact urban environments by reducing congestion, lowering emissions, and providing convenient last-mile connectivity options. By incorporating micromobility solutions, automotive companies are not just expanding their product portfolios but also aligning with contemporary urban mobility trends, indicating a transformative shift in the automotive industry's approach to meeting the diverse transportation needs of modern consumers.

The takeaway

Micromobility is quietly revolutionising urban travel, challenging traditional transportation paradigms with its surprising blend of sustainability, technological innovation, and diverse vehicle options. As cities become increasingly congested, the unexpected hero emerges in the form of e-scooters and e-bikes, cutting through the urban sprawl with minimal environmental impact. Governments and automotive giants are taking note as they pivot towards these compact, eco-friendly solutions that promise a greener, more accessible future. This ‘seismic’ shift towards micromobility, often underestimated, is reshaping our streets and redefining our approach to city life and mobility, making it an exciting time for urban transportation.

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Navigating the health, safety and regulatory risks of micromobility
Cem Adiyaman
Industry leader, Automotive