Micromobility: Electric Scooters for Zero Emissions in Smart Cities

Electric scooters can be the answer for zero emissions in smart cities.
Susan Fourtané
e-Scootering in London/Image Source: 2019 © Ben Fox 

Pollution is a global concern that affects millions of humans every year. Four million cases of child asthma reported globally have been linked to traffic pollution. 

The United Kingdom tops the list in Europe for pollution-linked cases of children suffering from asthma. The U.K. is followed by the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Spain. Exposure to nitrogen dioxide emitted from vehicles is a high-risk factor to which all of us are exposed daily. 

Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy 

Recently, the U.K. government has reviewed transport laws. In March, the government published Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy (PDF) to explore and update regulation around new modes of transport accordingly to this century.

Basically, some of the current laws date back from the 1800s. A lot has changed since then. Transport and urban mobility needs have obviously changed as well. 

The U.K. government is undertaking the biggest regulatory review in a generation in order to explore regulation around several emerging transport modes, including electric scooters or e-scooters. This means that £90 million are going to be invested in towns and cities around the United Kingdom to test transport innovation. Consequently, future journeys in the U.K. are going to be greener, easier, safer, and more reliable. 

According to the Department for Transport, the publication of Future Mobility: Urban Strategy signifies a key modern Industrial Strategy milestone. 

The £90 million competition for cities to deliver Future of Mobility Zones

The U.K. government has launched a £90 million competition (PDF) looking for cities to deliver Future of Mobility Zones.  

pollution in London
Electric scooters and other small electric vehicles could help to improve air quality in London.

Back in 1835 . . . 

According to the law in 1835: "If any person shall willfully ride upon any footpath or cause way by the side of any road made or set apart for the use or accommodation of foot passengers; or shall willfully lead or drive any horse, ass, sheep, mule, swine, or cattle or carriage of any description, or any truck or sledge, upon any such footpath or causeway; or shall tether any horse, ass, mule, swine, or cattle on any highway, so as to suffer or permit the tethered animal to be thereon." (from the Highway Act 1835)

It is because of this Highway Act 1835 that electric scooters are banned in the U.K.

Although the review could take a few months to complete, the evaluation and update of the 1835 legislation that is still part of the modern legislation in Britain is going to bring some closeness to the current 21st century. Because, no one can deny that the world and means of transporation as well as the commuters' needs have visibly changed from 1835 to this date. 

Today, we live in a world closer to 2020 than to 1835. 

The world in 2020

Almost 185 years later, the world looks different. Even though most of the technology shown in the video above is not mainstream yet, prototypes already exists. All this will be part of our everyday life at some point in the near future.

If there are no horses and carriages in today's streets any longer, you have to wonder why then there are still laws which are not only obsolete but are not representative of today's transport means.     

The future of electric scooters: Should they be legalized? Of course they should! 

In the U.K., the electric kick scooter is classified as a Personal Light Electric Vehicle (PLEV). Until 2018, PLEVs were considered illegal to circulate on British roads or pavements.

However, thanks to the biggest review into transport legislation the next logical step should be to legalize electric scooters in the United Kingdom. There is a micromobility movement that is trying to show why electric scooters should be legalized.

In the U.K., Ben Fox is leading the change we all want to see though creativity and sense of humor.  

Electric scooters for zero emissions: Ben Fox creates awareness in the U.K. 

"What made me really spring into action was when people contacted me explaining they were unable to cycle, yet did not want to be in a wheel chair, but could ride an e-Scooter." -Ben Fox

In the U.K., Ben Fox is at the center of change. He has become a well known advocate of electric scooters and other small electric vehicles that can help reduce carbon emissions.

He believes that in the near future, electric scooters are going to be legalized in the U.K.

He uses his dancing skills coupled with rapping (video above) to creatively create awareness, not only in the U.K. but also gloablly, around a topic that should concern everyone on the this planet: Pollution and its consequences on human health. 

In the hope of contributing to the Ultra-Low Emission Zone in the vibrant city of London, Ben Fox started a campaign asking the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to legalize electric scooters in the city. The petition can be signed here.

"What made me really spring into action was when people contacted me explaining they were unable to cycle, yet did not want to be in a wheel chair, but could ride an e-Scooter," says Ben Fox.  

Micromobility: A solution from those who want to protect the planet and life on it

Let's face it, it's the new generations the ones who will be inheriting a polluted planet. They are aware of it. Rather than just complaining, they are taking the initiative to find sustainable ways to live in the cities of the future. This includes micromobility

The urban environment is going through a transformation in order to adapt to smart city requirements. Today, we say that transportation is a basic human right. But, is it? In some cities public transport is free. If you could combine free public transport and micromobility you could increase your mobility freedom and contribute to the zero emissions' goal.

Finding mobility alternatives that are both environmentally and budget friendly is not hard to do now. In order to expand our horizons we need to be as mobile and independent as we can possibly be. 

Micromobility Manifesto: Toward zero carbon emissions 

The following is the Micromobility Manefesto. It gives you an idea about how strongly electric scooter enthusiasts feel.

"Transportation is a basic human right.

We are profoundly curious and need to move to satisfy our hunger and thirst. To mix with others and to expand our horizons.

For this reason we have always sought to range farther and faster. We harnessed wild animals and we built machines to amplify our stride.

At first, the machines we made amplified our legs through mechanical advantage but we learned how to harvest ancient sunlight to power our machines.

In order to convert ancient sunlight to energy, a violent reaction had to take place. The reaction releases gases containing carbon.

In small quantities this is harmless but in large quantities it is destabilizing to the climate because the carbon cycle of our planet is delicate and slow.

Our carbon machines are designed to contain violence and so they are heavy and need a suit of steel.

Being thus armored we feel we can drive them fast and the faster we can go the heavier they get. The heavier they get the more dangerous they are. The more dangerous they are the more we need to armor them. 

If you don’t need combustion to move; you won’t need a suit of armor.

Micromobility is a big word for a small idea. 

The idea is small in the sense that it represents machines that are small.

Machines that are sized to the job at hand: Moving people. And not sized to the process that makes them move.

Machines made to fit us not their internal violent reactions.

That such machines are now possible is a testament to our inventiveness and we consider that inventiveness as our superpower. 

This manifesto is a call to use our superpower to make moving better.

Better by getting there happier, healthier, and more in harmony.

In harmony with our environment and with each other."

Micromobility Europe

If you are still wondering how far the micromobility movement goes, you can attend the Micromobility Europe conference in Berlin, Germany on October 1, 2019. It's the first ever and largest micromobility event with panel discussions, exhibitions, and speakers all dedicated to the explosion of lightweight electric vehicles and their future toward zero carbon emissions.