Driving is work but riding is fun

This week, parking spots are the new co-working collectives, Bird’s direct-to-doorstep scooter rental service takes flight, and the SUV kills the Smart car, but first…

Business or Pleasure?

All too often micro vehicles are thought of in terms of the trips they replace—cars, ride-share, mass transit—instead of the trips they create.

The logic here is that the market for miles is fixed and lightweight electric vehicles need to compete for a slice of the pie.

But if cycling and walking teach us anything, it’s that when mobility is active or outdoors, it can be pleasurable. And when something is pleasurable, it creates its own demand. It makes the pie bigger.

Micromobility is about ease, agility, convenience, the feeling of freedom—it is about fun.

Looking at data collected by the city of Austin in March, during SXSW, Ian Agar of Pitchbook discovered the following:

Although an average trip from both [dockless bikes and dockless scooters] consisted of only 1.07 miles, riders spent an average of over 13 minutes on a device per ride, with bikes pulling in an average trip of only 1.64 miles but with a duration of 17.27 minutes.

These numbers calculate to an average speed of around four miles per hour—about the same speed as a power-walk.

Those speeds, which are far lower than what these vehicles are capable of, suggest that users were taking longer trips simply for the experience. In other words, they were joyriding.

But wait, you say, SXSW isn’t real life. Execs with expense accounts at a conference can afford to take their time getting from Point A to Point B.

You may be right, but take a look at this study from Portland, which finds that the second-most common reason people choose to ride e-scooters is for enjoyment. Or this report from NATCO, which concludes that somewhere between a fifth and a third of riders opt for shared bikes or scooters for “recreation/exercise.”

This is where the spirit of micromobility really diverges from automobility. Driving is a chore, dull and frustrating. Riding is an activity, fun and uplifting.

More than a first- or last-mile solution, micromobility can actually be an extra-mile opportunity.

💸 48 Hours Left for Early Bird 💸


On May 9, Early Bird for Micromobility Europe will vanish for good. But never fear, you still have 48 hours to unlock tickets at the lowest price.

Quick refresher: Early Bird passes cost less than half General Admission and offer full access to the entire lineup of Berlin programming on Oct. 1, including panels with the top minds in mobility, a keynote by Horace Dediu, food and snacks, a happy hour, and more.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to connect with the community that is shaping the future of transport.

Book now and save €405 off full-price tickets

What to Know This Week

  • “Your driver is arriving in a red double-decker.” Similar to Denver, the Uber app now offers London public transit options—part of the company’s bid to become an all-in-one transport solution.

  • Shrewdly circumventing the permitting process for dockless scooters, Bird is launching a $25-a-month rental service in San Francisco and Barcelona. The company will even deliver your rental scooter directly to your door.

  • German auto titan Daimler announces it will stop selling the two-seat, battery-powered Smart car in the U.S. and Canada. The cause of death? North Americans’ unhealthy obsession with SUVs.

  • In a far-reaching interview with Sidewalk Talk, Horace Dediu dives into disruption theory, roadways for micro vehicles, autonomous drive, and more.

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