The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world on its head. But as countries begin to restart their economies, many big cities are trying to work out options for people to safely return to work and get around, whilst also abiding social distancing rules. One of their biggest concerns is the daily commute.
For many of us, our commutes pre-COVID either involved cramming into trains, trams or buses (not exactly social distancing), or being in a car stuck in traffic. However, with concerns that public transport may not be the safest option at this time, and with cities like London introducing 2-metre distancing rules on their transport networks and significantly reducing capacity, we need to start considering alternative forms of transport.
Many of us will fall back onto driving, but with traffic congestion being a major issue for most cities around the world prior to COVID-19, this issue is only likely to be heightened as we emerge from lockdown, which means more time commuting. And don’t forget about those driving costs - petrol, parking, tolls etc.
So what alternatives do we have?
Well, judging by recent government actions, e-scooters might be the answer.
E-scooters will ease strain on public transport
Governments around the world have announced increased investment in the widening of bike lanes, as well as funding for additional paths and trails to encourage commuters to take up e-scooter or bike riding. For example, Melbourne City Council have announced a trial of 12 kilometres of new bike lanes, similar to actions taken in Berlin and London. Some governments have also introduced subsidies for electric scooter and electric bike purchases, with Italy recently proposing subsidies of up to 200 euros for those who wish to purchase either item.
Additionally, following a report that public transport use in Britain’s cities could be reduced by 20% post-lockdown, the UK is taking steps to fast-track e-scooter laws to encourage the uptake of alternative and sustainable forms of transport. Similarly in New York, a city that's seen a 90% drop in Subway riders since the lockdown, e-scooters and e-bikes have finally been legalised.
Benefits of riding an electric scooter
Electric scooters are a great alternative for people who are concerned about catching public transport in this climate and would prefer not to drive.
With more space and wider lanes for electric scooters, as well as maximum speeds that average around 25 km/h, commuters are offered a faster, safer, and more convenient way to get to work (without the effort). Another advantage of commuting by electric scooter is it’s a much cheaper option than a car. There’s no need to worry about the cost of petrol, toll fares or parking fees. Some scooter models, like the Melbourne-designed Raine One, feature folding mechanisms, meaning they can also be easily folded and stored under desks while you work.
Newer e-scooters models also feature extended ranges. The Raine One for example has a maximum range of 40km, providing plenty of charge to get you into work. And while you work, your scooter can conveniently recharge under your desk and be ready for the commute home at the end of the day.
In addition to their cost-saving, time-saving, and convenient nature, electric scooters are a sustainable alternative to cars and traditional forms of public transport. Many reports published during lockdown have reported major drops in air pollution. This silver lining is a reminder that in order to have a true impact on our environment, we need to start changing how we commute. Although it would seem that everyone staying at home is the best action for the environment (although not feasible long-term), electric vehicles are a good second.
Are electric scooters the long-term solution to commuting?
We’ve learnt many things as a global society during lockdown. One being that the world can change rapidly, so we must begin investing in alternative and sustainable solutions, including transport. Judging by the immense investment governments are making to support the use of electric vehicles, and the increased number of sales these past few months, it looks like e-scooters are definitely here to stay.
Electric scooters are a great option for people who want to commute quickly, efficiently, and minimise contact with others. The way we think about public space has dramatically changed, and while some things will eventually go back to normal, the world will never be the same place it once was. Technology and electric vehicles are the way forward for a better way of commuting.