Micro-mobility as a safer method of essential urban travel

April 06, 2020

Micro-mobility as a safer method of essential urban travel

While many of us are working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of healthcare workers, people in the food industry, logistics, waste management and other essential services need to continue their duties in person. Providing effective transport while ensuring the wellbeing of these frontline heroes is one of the most important challenges that we at Bolt are currently addressing, in cooperation with city officials and governments all over Europe.

A safer means of transportation

These extraordinary times have certainly had an impact on public transportation. So, the need for finding an alternative way to move around cities is becoming more and more important. The solution lies in micro-mobility.

But how to ensure relative safety? By following basic hygiene rules.

Daily disinfection of Bolt scooters in Spain

Daily disinfection of Bolt scooters in Spain

Our community’s well-being right now starts from the littlest things everyone can do. So, washing hands and using soap has, more than ever, become a mantra to live by. We at Bolt apply the same logic to our scooters out on the streets. Daily disinfection, paying extra attention to the most touched areas (like the handlebars), is something we take extremely seriously. We’re also advising all scooter riders to carry their own disinfectant spray or wipes and use them before and after the ride.  And, if possible, wear gloves while riding.

Hygiene rules for scooter rides

Vilnius as an example of micro-mobility during the crisis

In March, at the request of Vilnius City Municipality, we launched our scooter ride-sharing service ahead of our intended schedule. Commencing our second year in Vilnius as an alternative to public transportation.

How did the public react?

Like many other cities all around the world, Vilnius is currently in lockdown, with only essential travel permitted. How do Bolt scooters fit into this equation? We looked at the data.

The usage of scooters is high during weekdays during the daily commuting hours and on the lower side during the weekend leisure hours. 75-85% of the weekly rides are from Monday to Friday and 15-25% take place on Saturdays and Sundays. This means that scooters are used more for commuting and less for leisure rides.

The most common ride destinations include places in business districts like Vilnius City Clinical Hospital, Nasdaq Vilnius Business Centre, financial institutions and supermarkets.

Vilnius scooter rides during the quarantine period

Looking at the above, we can see that the public is respecting Vilnius’ quarantine rules and uses the micro-mobility solutions for taking essential trips.

Providing transportation to those on the front line

Besides the daily operations and the preparation for near-future launches, we’re now engaging with local hospitals to provide free scooter usage to medical staff members in several countries, helping them get where they’re needed as conveniently as possible.

The work with different government and city officials is ongoing. Our mutual goal is to find the safest method of urban transportation for everyone during this crisis.

Additionally, we’ve taken some extra steps to help our communities by shifting our priorities to cater to the needs of everyone staying at home.

Beyond Coronavirus, Scooters are greener and affordable

Current lockdown and quarantine aside, Scooters have the potential to offer a greener and more affordable means of transportation to all.

Yet, as a fairly new means of getting from A to B, micro-mobility raises the usual questions over its efficiency, impact on the environment and relative cost.

The necessity of greener transportation options is not something the next generation needs to think about. According to European Environment Agency’s report, it is estimated that 23% of transport CO2 emissions in Europe occurs in cities. The market for last-mile trips is increasing hand in hand with urbanisation. Improving urban mobility can contribute to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Designing greener urban transportation with multi-modalism is a tough nut to crack for a lot of cities across the world. This is where close cooperation between the public and private sectors can help.

The way we travel depends on the opportunities we have. Let’s be honest, when having a choice between a packed bus ride or a drive to work, many of us would opt for the latter. But with more options on hand, like electric scooters or e-bikes, we might as well enjoy the fresh air while rolling to work — it’s better for our health and the environment around us. And the after-work trip to the grocery shop? For that, you can request a ride from your phone.

We’ve already seen a positive effect from our first operating season in the Baltics. In Tallinn, both active and occasional scooter users started switching from cars to scooters for their trips.

But what about the cost?

Let’s be fair, doing our research, we’ve witnessed that the prices for renting a scooter in some countries may be unreasonably expensive to the user. Especially in the Nordic countries and Germany. We’re aiming to change that.

To have an environmentally positive effect on urban transportation, we need to create an opportunity for all, not only the few. And that’s exactly what we plan to do. By leveraging the developed expertise in analysing data and operational optimisation, we’re in a strong position for creating an innovative, yet affordable micro-mobility solution.

Market expansion

While we’re currently busy preparing to re-launch our services in Estonia and Latvia and working daily to maintain the best ride-sharing service quality in Portugal, Spain and Lithuania, over the coming weeks and months, you’re going to be seeing Bolt scooters in a number of European capitals.

Watch this space!

Follow the rules

We started this article on the topic of hygiene and we’ll close on that subject, too. Wash your hands, use a disinfectant and follow the instructions coming from trusted sources like WHO. Stay home and avoid unnecessary travel. If you need to go out, consider a Bolt scooter.

Stay safe!

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