Editor's Note: The following is a guest post from Andrew Savage, head of sustainability at Lime.
Bad things are happening.
The summer of 2019 was the hottest on record, Greenland ice is melting while the Amazon rainforest burns, and carbon emissions are on the rise.
As urban populations grow by 2.5 billion people in the next 30 years, this will further accelerate climate change and exacerbate the environmental and quality of life challenges for cities around the world — cities which are already being choked by congestion and poor air quality triggered by transportation pollution.
Rethinking the way our growing global cities move and embracing emerging shared transportation options, including sustainable micromobility, will be key to halting climate change and improving urban quality of life.
We all know that cars are expensive, polluting and inefficient.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), every car trip not taken prevents an average of 414 grams of carbon as well as numerous local pollutants from being released into the atmosphere. With this in mind, the environmental potential of technologies that take cars off the road is enormous.
Further, the majority of U.S. car trips made are under one mile. Many city residents could easily replace the fossil-fuel burning behemoths they use for these short trips for a lighter, cleaner, and more affordable way to get around — such as a dockless scooter.
In fact, data from cities that have embraced shared micromobility strongly suggests that many city residents prefer an alternative. With over 100 million rides globally, and approximately 25% of e-scooter trips replacing a car trip, Lime riders have forgone a staggering 25 million urban vehicle rides since 2017 — this is more than 100 trips around the earth.
Additionally, in an effort to reduce dangerous pollution and preserve historic communities, major metropolitan areas such as Madrid and Paris are embracing car free zones or, like New York City, enacting congestion pricing.
In these instances, as well as in cities like Los Angeles where public transportation access is more dispersed, emissions-free micromobility solutions like electric scooters can serve as a sustainable and affordable link between homes and energy efficient public transportation, which is increasingly clean and electrified.
Again, here, the proof is in the data. Globally, 48% of Lime riders report using a scooter to get to or from public transit in the last 30 days. In Paris, for example, researchers at 6t Bureau de Recherche found that 23% of scooter trips are intermodal, the majority to access public transit.
Finally, embracing shared transportation options such as dockless electric scooters can help cities address other pressing urban quality of life, environmental, and public policy challenges.
Think about all of the space used in every major city for parking — 1,400 soccer fields worth in Los Angeles alone, according to Moovel. Instead of parking garages that host vehicles that are unused 95% of their lives and exacerbate rainwater runoff, that space could be used for more affordable housing, addressing one of the most difficult challenges facing cities today and allowing people reduce their commutes by living closer to where they work.
Street parking could be freed up, giving way to expanding transit, clean neighborhood electric vehicles (EVs) and protected bike and e-scooter lanes. Imagine cities with more public green spaces, cleaner air and no gridlock.
To have any shot at addressing the climate crisis, we need solutions that will curtail transportation pollution and move us toward a carbon-free economy.
Let’s embrace the possibility of a new urban future where short trips are replaced by efficient and emissions free shared micromobility options, public transportation is more accessible than ever, and, for our kids and grandkids, tackle the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.