In September, the world leader in micro-mobility announced that they have had over 100 million trips
In September, the world leader in micro-mobility announced that they have had over 100 million trips, a world first for such a platform. The result is the more impressive as it has been reached in less than 6 moths after they announced 50 million trips in April 2019. Scooter trips booked by mobile application, since this is what we are talking about, are now an integral part of urban life in Europe, from Paris to Berlin, and now it has arrived in Bucharest.
Luca Mateescu, Operation Manager for the micro-mobility platform we are talking about, told us where they got the idea:
“It was launched sometime in 2017 in San Francisco, by founders Toby Sun and Brad Bao, who thought of a method to revolutionize urban transportation, and came up with this concept of micro-mobility. We have other products too, but the base product is the electric scooter you now see in Romania too. It was a successful initiative in the 120 cities in which it was introduced, so clearly the industry is developing, and micro-mobility is a viable solution for urban congestion. As we all know, Bucharest has a massive traffic problem, being in the European and world top list in those terms. Therefore we could anticipate that it would be a good initiative.”
Luca Mateescu explained what it is all about:
“We use a dockless model, meaning a person can pick up a scooter anywhere in Bucharest, we hope 500 meters at the most from wherever they are at a given time. All they have to do is use our app, available for iOS and Android, open it, log on, and unblock the scooter and use it. They have to scan a code on the scooter, then all they have to do is push a button. The scooter has a maximum speed of about 24 km/h. Users have to be over 18 years of age. It is a very simple means of transportation, which brings you ecologically to your destination.”
You may ask yourselves what the rules are when using such a vehicle:
“We have an international standard that we recommend. It is a bit higher than for bicycles. We recommend circulating on the right side, at the least obeying regular traffic rules. We recommend they be parked on the sidewalk, trying not to inconvenience pedestrians. Another important aspect that we recommend is wearing a helmet. About 80% of accidents are much less serious if a helmet is worn. It is a fairly safe vehicle, because it is rather slow, and for the careful user, it is statistically very safe, but it is important to observe traffic rules, which we promote. Soon we will have courses, we have all kinds of initiatives for traffic behavior, where we also distribute helmets. In addition, when you register with our application, you gent a set of instructions for proper use, provided in a series of interactive messages, where you are explained what the correct way to use a scooter.”
Statistics show that one in four scooter trips replaces a car trip, and that users have thus avoided driving 40 million km of car traffic. Here with details is Luca Mateescu:
“It is a solution that Bucharesters want, we have already registered hundreds of thousands of trips, some of them, namely 150,000, are registered as allowing people to leave their cars at home altogether, therefore scooters have replaced scooters 150,000 times, which is extraordinary for Bucharest.”
And since thi sis an international company, it works based on best practices everywhere in the world, as Luca Mateescu told us:
“We exchange best practices with other countries. Once a best practice takes root in one country, we apply it globally. This puts us at an advantage, and we have the possibility, within a month, to bring it into Romania. Of course, in Romania it is a Romanian company, but we use the international support group, from IT to testing and other details. When we see something good, we apply it in Bucharest.”
What is the way forward, we asked:
“It is a learning process, since this is such a new industry, and people are being cautious. A learning curve is involved, in terms of car drivers, because for them scooters are a novelty. Bucharest, as you know, does not have a complete infrastructure for cyclists, which we would normally use as well, therefore scooter users and car drivers are colleagues in traffic. Which is why we recommend a lot of caution for both drivers and scooter users. This goes for parking too, we point out to people the best ways to park. People are slowly learning the correct ways to park, especially since we want to so flexible that we leave the parking to users altogether. We want to have better and better learning in terms of scooter use, an easy to use app, which, although it was a novelty 3 months ago, now is known by almost everyone. All they have to do is want to use a scooter. It is an evolving industry.”
This micro-mobility culture is a novelty, one which provides us with a new means of transportation, making the city safer and more pleasant.