In the late 1960s, when I was a child, I had a nice dark red bike (my grandfather was a bikes artisan) exclusively made for me and I was very proud of it!
Some friends of mine had scooters powered by their own..feet. These were the best example of environmentally friendly vehicles and a very good opportunity to do physical exercise. In those days we used to spend a lot of time playing with friends outdoor, socialising with new children and exchanging “our vehicles” one another; I must say I wasn’t very much excited about the scooter.
In the late 1970s scooters disappeared and were replaced by the skateboards that generated a lot of passion, allowing to carry out competitions and so on. Professional skateboarding became a proper sport.
In more recent times, we saw the launch of the Segway (more seen in American TV series than in reality, in Europe) and the hoverboards whose safety was very much questioned.
We arrive to these days when scooters re-appeared on the market giving them a new life cycle thanks to a more sexy design and electric engines that allow to cover the last mile of a journey faster and conveniently. The idea seemed good, cities ran a race to be among the first to allow the circulation of this kind of transport, especially in the form of dockless sharing services. This happened worlwide. Unfortunately, the initial excitement didn’t take into account safety, legislation and norms with the consequence that some accidents occurred (implicating deaths in Paris, London, Barcelona, San Diego and Singapore) as e-scooters drivers weren’t always equipped with the necessary safety measures or didn’t adopted a safe driving attitude. Today it is not clear where these vehicles can circulate: on roads, on pavements, in private courtyards only (e.g. university campuses) or elsewhere.
This has created a confused situation as every city council can take its own decision/regulation and this is going to affect those who bought an e-scooter. As a matter of fact, when someone travels with their foldable bikes, they can cover the last mile to catch a train with their bike, travel by train and, after getting off, ride their bike and reach their final destination. The same cannot happen if they own an e-scooter as they could be allowed to use their vehicle in the departure city, but not in the arrival city, making their eco-travelling decision useless.
We also registered additional confusing situations such as what happened in Milan (Italy) where dockless e-scooters sharing services – launched with a lot of enthusiasm some months ago – were suddenly dismissed in August while waiting for clearer legislation on this matter.
All these facts show a total lack of preparation of our cities in reaching common agreements on where to use these (new?) means of transport, which road signs to design and introduce, which max travel speed is allowed (and clearly displayed), etc., which could certainly stimulate an environmentally-friendly travel habit that could boost the use of public transport, provided that users are clearly informed and that these rules – once approved – are consistent across at least the entire country.
EPN Consulting CEO & Founder