Why Ireland Needs Scooters

The recent tightening of Covid-19 restrictions has urged Irish people to avoid public transport unless absolutely necessary. We are once more confronted with the undeniable fact that our urban cities are now largely inaccessible to those without the luxury of private vehicles. Yet a solution does exist  one that is green, inexpensive, and enjoyable.  

Cities across the world are welcoming electric scooters to their streets with open armsScooters have long proven to be an affordablezero-emission and fun way of moving around in an urban space  and the pandemic has quickly accelerated their adoption amongst city-dwellers. In current times, Irish commuters are desperate to escape crowded buses and trains and are flocking towards socially distanced modes of transport like scooters. Covid-19 has fundamentally changed the way we perceive and use public transport. A practical way to make scooters more accessible is scooter-sharing schemes. The UK government has recognized this and, in an effort to enable a “green restart” of the economy, has legislated for e-scooter sharing trials. At the end of the day, scooter-sharing is a no-brainer. These safe and easy-to-use scooters can breathe fresh air into cities and drastically accelerate a city’s journey to carbon neutrality. 

 

Scooters can be key enabler in any city’s journey to carbon neutrality. 

 

A scooter journey does one of two things for riders: 

  1. It replaces another mode of transport. Commonly replacing car or public transport journeys, both of which reduce emissions. 
  1. It complements another mode of transport. Generally acting as a first or last-mile bridge in combination with public transport.  

Replacing Journeys  

The 2018 National Household Travel Survey revealed that a massive 71% of all Irish trips are made by car. About a quarter of these journeys are less than 10 minutes. Clearly, these are journeys that are easily replaced by scooters. The average scooter journey is between 1.5km and 2.5km long, which is a match made in heaven for many of the short jaunts taken by Irish people on a daily basis. The subsequent reductions in carbon emissions and urban congestion could be dramatic. This would reflect the Green Party’s commitment to “bringing decarbonisation centre stage”. 

Not only does scooter sharing sound convincing in theory, in practice it has been proven to replace car usage in urban areas. During a one-year trial in Portland, Oregon 22% of riders with cars reported getting rid of their car or seriously contemplating doing soThis was over the course of just one year – think about this effect compounding over time. If the rate of car journey replacement continued at that rateand was accompanied by investments in cycling infrastructure and public transport, it would not be unreasonable to envision for car-free cities, or at the very least majorly reduce the presence of cars by 2025.  

This vision is in line with the Irish governments plan to connect people to more cities across the country, all the while easing congestion. Project Ireland 2040 sets out ten strategic initiatives to make Ireland a “better country for us all” with Sustainable Mobility being one of these initiatives. It drives home the need for us to move away from our dependence on carbonintensive transport, if we wish to secure our climate action goalsIf sustainable mobility is embedded within our country’s future on a governmental level, adopting scootersharing is how we will bring this future to fruition.  

The only roadblock in relying on public transport to get us to car-free cities is that it can cost billionsThe benefit of scooter-sharing is that it is essentially cost-free for cities. Cities that are no longer plagued with high transport costs and clogged with cars sounds almost utopian. Yet this is something that can be achieved.  

 

Complementing Journeys 

There is a term widely used in transport and urban planning called the “access shed”. This is the radius within which someone can reach highquality transit in under 15 minutes. This distance is about 0.75km on foot but 2.5km or more on a scooter. This tripling in the radius of the access shed massively increases people’s access to public transportThe way forward need not be investing billions in public transport but rather cities should welcome scooter-sharing as a method for enabling increased public transport use and boost the return on investment they earn on their public transport systems. 

Encouraging scooter-sharing encourages usage of other zero-emission modes of transport like cycling also. Money spent on scooter infrastructure (segregated lanes etc.) is de facto money spent on cycling infrastructure as their infrastructural needs overlap. The two modes go hand-in-hand and rarely replace each other. A survey undertaken in Portland found that 78% of their e-scooter users had never used their bike-sharing service. This emphasises the idea that the presence of one does not impede the other, as they appeal to different target markets and users. 

 

Scooter-sharing breathes life into a city.

Scooter-sharing benefits the local economy. A survey of riders in Washington DC found that 72% visited more local businesses and explored more local attractions since the introduction of a scooter-sharing scheme. In the same survey, 44% of riders stated that scooters made it easier for them to access jobs or job opportunities. A study in Seattle found that the average worker could access approximately 100,000 more jobs with scooter-sharing and public transport. By increasing the connectivity within a cityopportunity is createdIrish people are proud to shop local, and they want access to better opportunities. Scooters make this a possibility. As Irish cities endeavour to resume some degree of normal life, there needs to be transport systems in place to facilitate free movement, while still adhering to social distancing guidelines.  

                                                                            

While these boring stats and facts show us that scooter-sharing is so greatthere is also another factor we shouldn’t neglect, and that is how fun scooters are to ride. In today’s society, where people are constantly rushing, worrying, and scrolling, is there no room for 5 to 10 minutes in your day where you just feel free? A moment in your day where you’re standing in the open Irish air, on a safe, stable electric platform zipping through your city or town and enjoying life. Riding a scooter gives you a feeling of freedom provided by no other transport mode. There is a quality of life factor to be considered here in our conversation about transport, that is too often left out of the discussion.   

Transport is the second largest contributor to Ireland’s carbon footprint and the largest contributor in the UK. If we want to be serious about saving this planet from anthropogenic climate change then we must start to think about how to radically change how we move, and scooters can prove to be a key ingredient to our solution. Furthermore, the Ireland 2040 strategic vision for mobility declares it “will enable growth and change, meeting the significant increase in travel demand”. We are now faced with unprecedented changes, that have brought with them a host of new demands on the travel industry. Now is the time for the adoption of micromobility solutions, to ensure that Irish cities not only survive, but thrive.  

Zipp Mobility

Nova UCD,
Belfield Innovation Park,
Clonskeagh,
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown,
Ireland

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