Will electric scooters solve air pollution in cities?
There has been much discussion around the ability of electric scooters to solve air pollution problems in cities. While there is no single solution to cut out the negative impact of our many industries and systems, study after study shows the positive net impact of electric scooters and other micromobility options.
At ScooTours, our focus on sustainable and innovative tours in UK cities means we fully support the micromobility movement. From our beginnings offering electric bike tours and push scooter tours to now being the first in the UK to offer electric scooter tours, we know the positive impact of these transportation modes for our cities.
Of course, we aren’t foolish enough to think that encouraging e-scooter use will solve every city’s air pollution problem. As with all things, there is a balance to strike. We envision cities where urban residents and visitors can enjoy accessible, affordable, and convenient modes of transport without causing harm to the environment. We believe micromobility, such as electric scooters, can help us toward that better balance.
If you’re thinking about trying out electric scooters, check out our fun city tours. We start every tour with a simple safety tutorial and then head out for a guided scoot along cycle lanes and scooter-friendly paths. Check out our London tours for a fun alternative to the typical city adventures!
For now, we’d like to share more about how electric scooters can be beneficial for cities struggling with air pollution.
How Micromobility Can Help With Sustainability
Micromobility transportation includes the likes of scooters, electric scooters, bicycles, and electric bikes. These small, independent modes of transportation offer a solution for short trips, especially in urban areas. There are certainly pros and cons of electric scooters, which we’ve gone into previously. But we truly believe that micromobility offers solutions for sustainability issues, especially in our cities.
As more users opt for micromobility, cars are used less frequently. A survey of riders in Birmingham showed that 31% of e-scooter users would have used a vehicle if the e-scooter wasn’t available. At the time of the survey, that equated to approximately 140,000 car journeys that were replaced with micromobility.
Swapping car journeys for micromobility clearly helps with the sustainability of our urban environments. Electric scooters help with reducing car congestion, as well as shifting communities toward more accessible and affordable transportation options.
While public transportation can minimize personal vehicle use, not every community is well-served by convenient stops or frequent service. Micromobility can increase opportunities for residents in those communities, while perhaps offering the bonus of additional visitor traffic to those places as well.
The more people choose lower emissions options, the less air pollution will negatively impact cities and their residents.
How sustainable are electric scooters?
Electric scooters are not perfect. The manufacture of e-scooters is still a negative-impact process and the transportation of the scooters around cities also poses an issue. Where dockless electric scooters are used, the rental company trucks or vans — which are most often diesel-powered — need to transport the scooters for charging and for convenient placements for next-day use.
An increased focus on improved micromobility infrastructure can mitigate this problem. And continuously improved battery technology means a longer life-span for each scooter. That both reduces the transport needs for dockless scooters and also keeps these scooters out of landfills for longer.
While we continue to improve the scooters themselves, their everyday use is, definitively, more sustainable than the use of a fuel-powered vehicle. E-scooters are also more sustainable than electric vehicles. Comparing the performance per weight and mile of each of these options shows how beneficial electric scooters can be — especially in urban areas.
In cities where residents and visitors often need transport for short distances, public transportation can still leave wide gaps for whole communities. Those gaps are often filled with personal vehicles or with reduced accessibility and equity.
Micromobility offers solutions.
Can electric scooters lower emissions and reduce air pollution?
In short, yes. Micromobility transport like electric scooters can help reduce air pollution if these modes of transportation replace traditional vehicles. A report from 2020 found that, in the UK, 58% of car journeys cover fewer than 5 miles, while in urban environments 69% of car journeys cover fewer than 3 miles. Instead of taking an Uber as a single rider, opting for micromobility can lower the emissions for that trip.
As a “last-mile” transportation option, electric scooters can open up more neighborhoods for better community use. They can reduce car congestion and pollution, to the benefit of all residents and visitors alike.
Of course, poor weather and limited stock or availability for use will continue to create growing pains for the electric scooter rental market. But, as more cities open up to trials and to long-term use, we will continue to see a reduced negative impact on air pollution.
We will continue to improve infrastructure for safe, convenient use. And this evident interest from users leads companies to continue developing improved batteries and hardware for all micromobility options.
Are electric scooters the answer to all air pollution problems in cities? No, of course not. But they are certainly a part of the solution that we love to support.
Join us on a tour to try out these sustainable, innovative solutions while also having fun and learning something new! Our London tours and Cambridge tours have been particularly popular among locals and visitors alike. We look forward to being part of the solution with you.