If you’ve been thinking that the future of more efficient urban mobility systems lies in options like e-scooters and ride-sharing alone, then think again. A new report by the European Environment Agency (EEA), found that despite some of the benefits of these new mobility ideas, there are a number of other factors that cities need to consider when striving to create a more robust mobility system.
- According to the EEA, first, last, only (F/L/O) miles options need to align with the specific needs of an urban area, beyond convenience.
- The EEA found that the overall mobility benefits of options such as electric scooters tend to change, depending on how and when they are used.
- Public transit is one of the most important factors in creating a healthier transportation ecosystem, according to the EEA.
Technology companies would have us believe that they are solving all our transportation problems, but that’s not necessarily the case. (Photo: Getty Images)
It’s about more than the tech
The EEA study, The First and Last Mile, found that environment and health effects of F/L/O mile options are determined by how they are used and what they replace. Initiatives aimed at creating more efficient urban mobility systems cannot afford to revolve around new transportation modes alone, regardless of how convenient the mobility options might seem. In other words, all the excitement over new mobility tech is a bit misguided, especially when it comes to the environmental impact of some of the newer mobility ideas.
Whether it’s the convenience of using an app for a ride-hailing service, or the wide availability of e-scooters in many major cities, it’s misleading to think that all of these new options work to improve all facets of urban mobility. For example, a short trip using an electric kick scooter is healthy and more efficient for the environment if it replaces a motorcycle or a car trip. But if the e-scooter replaces a trip that could be taken by foot or bike, then its viability as a healthier mobility option diminishes significantly.
The EEA found that public transit plays a pivotal role in creating healthier environment for transportation. (Photo: Ride/Marcus Amick)
Don’t count out the bus
In general, the EEA contends that public transit continues to be one of the most important ways to reduce environmental and health concerns tied to transportation. The organization also notes that good F/L/O mile options can help to increase the use of public transportation, therefore enhancing the environmental and health benefits of an efficient public transit system.
The EEA study notes that the technology used to improve mobility needs to align with a city’s sustainable mobility goals, which can help create a healthier and more environmental-friendly mobility system. According to the EEA, it’s important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of different mobility options, and how they affect the mobility system as a whole.
WHY THIS MATTERS
The EEA study provides a fresh new perspective on the pros and cons of new mobility options. The 80-plus page report also serves as a guide of sorts, in highlighting how cities can be more effective in their approach towards new mobility, especially when it comes to ensuring that health and environmental concerns are an integral part of the strategy.