In a Word: Micromobility

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For lots of us, talk of electric vehicles typically defaults to cars or SUVs. And yet, though there is undoubtedly an EV revolution at hand, it is being driven predominantly by smaller vehicles — e-bikes and scooters, for instance. 

There’s a name for this mode of transport: micromobility. 

Horace Dediu, a tech analyst, coined the term and, literally, wrote the book on it. Micromobility refers to any vehicle less than about 1100 pounds, usually electric. But on a Harvard Business Review (HBR) podcast, Dediu noted that he’s expanded that “to define micromobility as very efficient mobility in terms of the energy consumed.” 

Dediu posits that micromobility is poised to transform our cities, a prediction that’s already evident. Sales are booming in the EU and Asia and growing. According to Bloomberg, “To accommodate the now-ubiquitous presence of what has come to be known as micromobility, Tel Aviv intends to more than double its bike paths to cover 350 kilometers by 2025 in the 52-square-kilometer city. It’s part of Mayor Ron Huldai’s ultimate dream — to eventually create a car-free, pollution-free metropolis.”

Colin Mckerracher, head of transport and automotive analysis at BloombergNEF recently put it this way: “the EV revolution … rides on two wheels for now.” 

In North America, however, large vehicles still dominate our streets — in 2020, pickup trucks made up five of the top ten best selling vehicles in the U.S. And yet, Dediu tells us that 80% of trips by car are less than two miles long. And the majority of those vehicles hold just one passenger. Our infrastructure — our very expensive infrastructure — is built to accommodate vehicles. Infrastructure built for micromobility, Dediu has said, is considerably cheaper. “​​All arguments being made against micromobility is that, ‘Well, we have the infrastructure for automobility. We’re going to carry on doing this.’ As everyone knows … you’re just pointing to the fact that it was done wrong.”

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Leslie Garrett
Leslie Garrett
Leslie Garrett is a journalist and the Editorial Director of Bluedot, Inc. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, and more. She is the author of more than 15 books, including The Virtuous Consumer, a book on living more sustainably. Leslie lives most of the year in Canada with her husband, three children, three dogs and three cats. She is building a home on Martha's Vineyard.

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