Micromobility is changing the face of urban mobility. The phenomenon started with bike sharing and has progressed to include e-scooters, e-bikes, and platforms that connect users to their desired transportation method. Advancements in electric motors and battery technology have allowed micro-mobility companies to scale their growth with a new wave of vehicles. Now any pedestrian can borrow a set of wheels to reach their destination with ease.
But there are obstacles to overcome. The meteoric rise of micromobility results in new hazards on the road and new regulations to mitigate their effect. Now, as the micromobility industry continues to grow, new regulations catch mobility companies by surprise.
Micromobility Industry Growth
The micromobility industry is multi-faceted with its various service providers, transportation vehicle options, and device ownership trends. Of these, e-scooters are the foremost option.
Platforms offering access to e-scooters have exploded in growth from being a $10 million industry in 2017 to $1.5 billion in 2022. At a fraction of the cost compared to ride-share or taxi services, micromobility platforms have captured a market for low-cost individual transportation methods. In fact, the two industry-leading e-scooter fleets provide more daily rides than popular carpool and rideshare platforms.
Why Are E-Scooters So Popular?
The parabolic growth of this sector is also multi-faceted. Smaller, cheaper, and with fewer points of failure, e-scooters have become the dominant micromobility trend in 2022. Urban infrastructure, residents, and travelers benefit from the flexibility, accessibility, and efficiency that micromobility transportation offers. These benefits drive the ubiquity of micromobility services.
Aside from practicality, e-scooters also bring users a sense of child-like nostalgia, freedom, and novelty as they navigate to their destinations. All of these factors underlie the exponential increase in e-scooters usage: from 500,000 users in 2017 to 77 million in 2022.
Is Urban Micromobility a Sustainable Option?
Micromobility devices positively impact urban mobility, especially for lower income residents. The trend creates public transit catchment areas, directly increasing e-scooter availability and the range of viable destinations that can be reached from a given public transit waypoint.
Essentially, micromobility helps people get around faster than walking or driving while also reducing congestion in cities. E-scooters and e-bikes also address some daily challenges faced by urban residents: alleviating issues of limited space, costly parking, and high transportation costs.
Research even indicates e-bikes and similar micro-transportation methods contribute to job accessibility.
Overall, micro-transportation options stand to shift urban-planning considerations in favor of more sustainable, accessible, and efficient designs. To realize this future and ensure public safety along the way, regulatory measures have become a necessary part of the picture.
The Rise In Micromobility Regulations
All across the world, micromobility has entered the scrutinizing lens of regulatory agencies. Recent safety incidents pose safety risks for pedestrians and motorists of all types - especially when riders lack oversight or operating standards dictating their place on the road.
Now that the industry has proven its efficacy, it is up to governmental bodies to decide exactly how micro-transit enforcement will look. Unfortunately, there is little to no legislative consensus around the rules that should be enforced.
Inconsistent Laws: Speed Limits, Helmet Regulations, and Curfews
Regulation varies at all levels of jurisdiction: from municipal to national legislation. When in Rome, e-scooters were not allowed to surpass 25km/hr. This limit was recently updated to 20km/hr with additional restrictions for parking and in pedestrian walkways. Visitors and residents of the Italian capital can expect these rules to be updated yet again within a year.
Users are left guessing whether or not to wear a helmet, if they are allowed to use bike lanes, or even where they can park their device. To compound on this uncertainty, e-scooters, e-bikes, and forthcoming micro-transit options like electric unicycles or one-wheels can sometimes have differing expectations even within the same geographical areas.
Regulations Increase Risk for Platform Providers
It is important for micromobility platforms and companies to know the local laws before beginning to operate in a new city and keep their technology up to date as they change.
As the regulatory landscape shifts, users need accurate and up-to-date information about law enforcement along their route. For e-scooter companies, this means being able to design and implement these changes quickly to maintain a positive rider experience. Luckily, there is a resource that has these expectations all mapped out.
How Mapbox Helps Companies Master Regulations
Perfecting solutions to micromobility regulations requires experimentation, and Mapbox allows for quick testing, iteration, and implementation.
- Mapbox Studio enables companies to design custom map solutions for diverse regulated areas like parking zones, speed limits, and restricted zones, and roll them out with ease. Developers can learn from real-time data and tweak parameters without rewriting code. Mapbox systems help micromobility businesses like Tier Mobility push updates with a click of a button. This way, companies can comply with changing regulations without skipping a beat.
- Mapbox Navigation SDK makes it easy for both users and platform providers to comply with their municipality’s local legislation. Riders are less likely to navigate through restricted zones with technology that guides them through every stage of their journey.
- Mapbox Tiling Service rapidly processes location data to refine regulation enforcement. Updates appear in-app for users as they move from one regulatory zone to another. The vehicles, like e-scooters, can change function based on location too. For example, when a user enters a low-speed area, the scooter’s acceleration can be limited automatically.
- Mapbox Mobile Maps SDK delivers regulation updates faster than major map providers like Google thanks to superior load times. Rapid updates create a seamless user experience as users won’t have to consciously change their habits as they enter and exit different regulatory zones. The riding experience can be adjusted automatically to align with the rules of the road.
Mapbox’s product suite is designed for easy integration into any application. Everything is built from the ground up to support a variety of use cases, including routing and navigation, mapping, and geocoding. These functions make it easy to track device usage and plan new service zones.
Unreliable forums, archaic bureaucratic web pages, and irrelevant legal minutia are inadequate solutions for avoiding tickets and fines. Instead, micromobility companies should look to Mapbox for designing and testing solutions for mapping regulated zones across their operating jurisdictions.
Learn more about how our tools support micromobility companies and their teams, enabling them to deliver the best experience for their customers, drive efficiency, and operate safely.