Micromobility. The Changing Transportation Landscape
How people move from one place to another is multifaceted and constantly evolving. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the transportation landscape practically overnight. Traffic has decreased sharply and public transport experienced temporary shutdowns and historically low usage.
The nearly empty streets have given us a once in a lifetime opportunity to finally see the forest for the trees and what we’re seeing is bicycles. Everywhere.
Bicycling has skyrocketed in cities around the world as essential workers are discovering new ways to get to work. This surge is prompting action by cities across the globe to install temporary infrastructure, and many are committing millions of dollars to permanent improvements that will dedicate more road space to bicyclists and pedestrians.
Cars, Sharing Is Caring
Over the past year, trends in the auto industry have reflected consumer demands for more energy-efficient vehicles, and the industry is following suit. In January of 2020, Business Insider published an article on the future of the auto industry that spoke of numerous developments in the electric-vehicle space, as well as the fact that many car makers are revising earlier estimates and planning to reach electrification targets sooner than expected. 
Thanks to Tesla, the hype for driverless capabilities has had everyone dreaming about having their own personal driver (read: robot). This sentiment is reinforced by the booming rideshare industry and subscription-based car rental services like Zipcar, GoGet, and FlexiCar continue to grow. Automotive News predicts subscription-based car sharing services to increase throughout the year, with an anticipated annual growth rate of 71% through 2022. 
These driving trends show a decreased demand for traditional automobile parking at many facilities and an increased demand for electronic charging stations, as well as rideshare drop-off zones. Additionally, bike share and bike hire stations (like Brompton’s daily bike hire scheme in the UK) are taking cities by storm, with many buildings investing in stations to complement other modes and expand their multi-modal options for tenants.
While in previous years, it appeared that e-bikes and e-scooters could simply be the latest fad, the last five months say otherwise. E-bike manufacturer Ampler, in the UK, reported an 88% increase between January and May of 2020. E-scooters continue to see a significant uptick in sales with several new lightweight models entering the market this last quarter, demonstrating a rosy future for micromobility. In fact, a McKinsey study estimates that the micromobility market could reach $150 billion in Europe and $300 billion in the U.S. by 2030.
Forward-thinking companies have already considered the needs of micromobility users by incorporating simple changes into their end-of-trip facilities including:
– Installing power points in the bike rooms to act as charging stations for e-bikes and e-scooters
– Allowing for flexible lockers (preferably up on the tenant floors) that cater to folding bikes, scooters, hoverboards, and whatever else the future generation dreams up next.
Globally, large amounts of governmental resources are being allocated to the improvement and expansion of heavy rail in major metropolises. Los Angeles, long known as the archetypal car city, has begun to implement Measure M – a sales tax that will offset the cost of implementing transit – in order to help fund an $80 billion plan to add over 170km to the county’s rail network. Toronto has proposed a fifteen-year $33 billion investment to expand their current subway network.
Down under, Sydney is investing record amounts of money for transit, committing to a new metro line as well as several new tram lines, all of which will undoubtedly transform how commuters travel to and from work.
London may have the most ambitious plans of all, looking to spend upwards of £1.3 trillion over the next 30 years in capital infrastructure.
As with the changes we’ve seen in the automotive industry, the increase of rail lines in our urban environments are aimed at giving commuters a greener, more flexible, driverless option to help ease congestion and transform the way people move.
Public Space Campaigns Tiny Sprockets Turn Big Wheels
We are lucky to work alongside advocacy groups whose sole mission is to get more people cycling. Our friends at Love to Ride leverage data and smart devices to encourage sustainable behavior change towards cycling across the globe. Partnering with a growing number of businesses worldwide (over 27,900), they are a small team making a massive difference.
Cycling Works Australia is one of the only business-led movements in the country pushing for government to invest more in bicycle infrastructure. The likes of ISPT, Committee for Sydney, Mercer, Gehl, Planex and more have joined the movement because they have put their money where their mouth is and they understand that bicycling is the key to urban resilience. You’ve already invested in bicycle infrastructure, take the next step and join the movement to make sure you can continue to attract top talent and tenants.
Community support is as important as bicycle infrastructure and when it comes to change, power in numbers is the way to make it happen.