By Sebnem Tugce Pala, Policy Advisor at DUCKT Mobility
After years of expanding the French capital’s network of bike paths, city officials in Paris turned an additional 50 kilometres (31 miles) of traffic lanes used by cars over to active mobility users during the COVID-19 pandemic, in a move initially announced as temporary. Although Paris was leading the way, Milan, as Italy’s key industrial hub, came up with the Strade Aperte (Open Roads), becoming one of the world’s greatest examples of redesigning city streets to be friendlier to pedestrians and cyclists. The pandemic has been a critical time for policymakers to seize the unique opportunity to change the fabric of our cities.
It is also worthwhile to take a look at the economic benefits of focusing on more cycles and active mobility-friendly infrastructure. A recent study showed that the key city arteries in Helsinki have found a €3.6 euro gain for every €1 invested in bike paths. These returns have the potential to swell to between $2.2 billion and $6.9 billion in Europe, but only if the lanes were to become permanent and the current rates of cycling among citizens stick over the long term.
Infrastructure’s role in active and micro mobility
Infrastructure is, of course, crucial to these positive developments. This also applies to the e-scooter market, which plays a key role in the transportation space. This particular market has generated a huge amount of attention for the advocacy and implementation of active mobility infrastructure. Not to mention, e-scooters have gained a ubiquitous presence in many major metropolitan and suburban areas.
Based on Meticulous Research’s recent comprehensive study, the e-scooter market is expected to reach $644.5 billion by 2028, with a compound annual growth rate of 29.4%. In Europe specifically, we have seen around 22% growth since the pandemic began, highlighting a relatively rare case of positive change due to COVID-19.
Despite a very promising micro mobility market, many cities are still unable to provide the necessary infrastructure for e-bikes and e-scooters. In fact, some cities are still taking a cut of revenue from shared mobility devices, based on each ride. The same can not necessarily be said when ride-hailing burst onto the scene, when many city officials were much less stringent in accommodating the service. But especially in the micro-mobility space, public and private partnerships are critical. That being said, the City of Paris has taken an admirable lead on these efforts.
Paris as a leader of universal charging infrastructure
DUCKT Mobility, as a micro-mobility infrastructure innovator, has won the pilot project for the installation of 150 dock, lock, and charge points across Paris’s Rive Gauche in Q3 2021. This project will highlight how universal charging infrastructure is a necessary aspect of accelerating micro-mobility usage, and therefore reducing mobility’s climate impact, in the City of Paris. DUCKT’s unique model offers the Paris municipality a way to help organise public space and lower operational costs through its simple and secure universal charging stations. As these solutions are very adaptable, it can easily be plugged into advertising boards, bus stations, and street lighting in order to source power.
As stated by Marc-Antoine Réol, Country Manager France of DUCKT, “The aim of this trial is to provide a last-mile infrastructure solution that links public transport and shared micro-mobility. The initiative supports the mayor’s desire to reduce the use of cars in the city center to a minimum, and supports the city’s ambitious ‘15-minute city’ project which aims to give Parisians the full use of their streets”.
In part as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the ongoing transformations happening in the mobility space, we are seeing a range of new disruptive business models. In the micro-mobility industry, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) as the missing piece of the puzzle is definitely one of these models that is changing the game, and our success in working with the City of Paris only reaffirms this. IaaS greatly helps communities generate income through the use of micro-mobility charging stations by getting users out of cars, onto the streets, and closer to local businesses. Micro-mobility charging stations can also be used as key first and last mile infrastructure solutions, and it is imperative to see IaaS as a lever to encourage the growth of this important industry. Taking the value of IaaS into account, city officials and micro-mobility industry players should find a way to enhance the collaboration and efficiency in implementing these solutions through better partnerships, as they are ultimately sharing the same goal: to build more livable, equitable, sustainable and secure cities with a better and more integrated infrastructure for their residents.