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Will e-scooters form vital part of travel post Covid-19 restrictions in the region?

Will e-scooters form vital part of travel post Covid-19 restrictions in the region?

Micro-mobility is emerging as an effective tool for essential short distance trips

The global impact of Covid-19 has been devastating. Governments around the world have taken substantial measures to stop its advance and keep us safe, requiring temporary halting of the economic livelihoods for many of us.

Single passenger (micro-mobility) vehicles such as bicycles or e-scooters will be vital to the global Covid-19 recovery. Eventually restrictions will start to relax and we will enter a transition period where we still need to limit exposure risks while restarting economic activity.

It is here where micro-mobility is emerging as an effective tool for essential short distance trips:

* Personal vehicles with no human interaction and natural social distancing when riding

* Provides citizens with an alternative option to other more crowded shared transport systems (eg, metros, buses, taxis, ride-hails), reducing exposure risks

* Reduces the load and congestion on public transport systems, creating more space and security for those that rely on public transit to get to work

* Easy to manage and track frequent sanitisation of common touch points

* Vehicles may receive natural ‘sanitisation’ from exposure to the sun’s UV radiation, heat and humidity

Due to these benefits, several markets around the world have turned to micro-mobility as an alternative or recommended mode of transportation.

US cities are seeing a surge in the usage of micro-mobility to minimise coronavirus exposure, including New York (67 per cent growth) and Chicago (105 per cent growth). According to reports, San Francisco and others have classified shared e-scooters as essential services that continue to operate during its shelter in place lockdown.

China has also seen a doubling of medium-distance micro-mobility usage nationwide, including a tripling in Wuhan at the peak of the crisis.

Additionally, many cities have created temporary bike lanes overnight to enable social distancing for essential trips, including in Berlin, Bogota, Cleveland, Denver, Minneapolis, Mexico City, New York, Portland and others.

Car-free streets were already becoming a trend before the coronavirus emerged. Building out a network of temporary bike lanes allows residents to use their bikes or scooters for necessary trips to the pharmacy or supermarket while also avoiding public transportation.

Closing certain streets to car traffic can also help promote social distancing, since it’s easier to maintain six feet of recommended distance from someone else when not confined to a narrow sidewalk.

More cities should take note, as cities will benefit too – not just from the resurgence of economic activity that transportation provides, but from the emissions-free movement of people, the more efficient use of space, the reductions in car-related accidents that may strain overburdened healthcare systems, and the enjoyment that getting on a bike or scooter can bring after an extended period in confined spaces.

Our Middle East governments have shown remarkable leadership and foresight in their proactive response to this crisis.

Micro-mobility is an effective tool for governments to incorporate as they begin to plan for a gradual transition to normalcy.

Jaideep Dhanoa is the co-founder and CEO of Circ MENAT

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