Forget driving, just building highways is bad enough

This week, GM’s first e-bikes arrive in Europe, the founder of the Toronto Raptors pulls a fast break into the scooter game, and docked bike-share programs are doing just fine thank-you-very-much, but first…

Cement Trucks? More Like Cement > Trucks

On a scale of plastic straws to private jets, banning cement mix may not seem like a high priority for the environmental movement. But if you look at it by emissions, maybe it should be.

According to the International Energy Agency, cement production is responsible for a staggering 7% of global CO2 emissions. To put that in perspective, the same report found that, in aggregate, all of the trucks in the world contribute 6%.

In a new Bloomberg article, Vanessa Dezem breaks down why the manufacturing of this age-old building material unleashes so much air pollution:

About two-thirds of the polluting gases that come from cement production stem from burning limestone. Kilns are heated to more than 1,400 degrees Celsius (2,600 Fahrenheit), about four times hotter than a home oven set to the self-clean cycle. Inside the kiln, carbon trapped in the limestone combines with oxygen and is released as CO2, the most abundant greenhouse gas.

A ton of cement yields at least half a ton of CO2, according to the European Cement Association. That’s more than the average car would produce on a drive from New York to Miami.

The cement industry’s carbon-intensive practices are especially disconcerting when one considers how much of the material is needed to construct highways, tunnels, bridges, and other infrastructure for cars.

By one estimate, the U.S. highway system alone is made up of 53 million tons of cement, representing 26.5 million tons of CO2—more than the entire country of the Dominican Republic produces in a year. And that’s not including emissions from trucks, machinery, and other construction materials like steel needed to build major roadways. Making matters worse, highways are constantly being repaved and expanded to keep up with traffic demand, meaning more and more cement is poured each year.

The ecological impact of new road projects is most commonly measured in terms of how many cars will drive down them. This makes sense, of course. Passenger vehicles and light trucks are by far the biggest polluters when it comes to transportation.

But for a fuller picture, pricing in the CO2 cost of building this infrastructure in the first place also makes a good deal of sense. Because on cement alone, the average freeway contributes a mega-load of pollution long before it hosts its first rush hour.

Flash Sale ⚡️ 


For a very limited time—from now until Sunday, June 30 at 11:59pm PST—tickets to Micromobility Europe are almost 40% off the General Admission price.

Get your tickets now, then meet us in Berlin on October 1 for the largest event ever focused on the emerging revolution in urban mobility.

And in case you missed it, check out the early conference agenda below. This week, we welcome the addition of Tanja Kufner, a partner at (a division of Porsche’s MHP), who will address how the capital for micromobility is being allocated as part of a deep-dive with leading transportation investors.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Micromobility Europe? Contact us.


On a new episode of the podcast, Oliver Bruce talks to writer, startup advisor, and policy wonk David Zipper about LADOT’s Mobility Data Specification (MDS) and the quietly brewing war over what kind of access cities should have to information on scooter trips.

It’s a timely subject, especially given the news this week that the LADOT and its allies in other cities have launched a coalition to defend the MDS (see below).

Listen to the episode here.

What to Know This Week

  • Following the election of a new government, Madrid’s highly ambitious car ban may be “condemned to death.” | CityLab

  • A recent article outlines the case for “protected mobility lanes” over traditional bike paths. | Treehugger

  • A group of e-scooter and e-skateboard owners in need of some juice are mapping all of the public-use AC outlets in the world. | Google Maps

  • Even in the face of 1,500 new dockless e-scooters, Salt Lake City’s nonprofit station-based bike-share program has grown over 770 percent since 2013. | Deseret News

  • Grow has hit 10 million scooter and bike trips across Latin America, a milestone that means the business is expanding at a similar rate as Bird and Lime did in each of their first years. | TechCrunch

  • … relatedly, Lime has arrived in Latin America. Its green two-wheelers will roll out across Mexico (Mexico City), Brazil (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro), Argentina (Buenos Aires), Peru (Lima), and Chile (Santiago) this summer. | Electrek

  • A reviewer tries out General Motors’s first-ever pedal-assist bikes, Ariv Meld and its foldable companion, Ariv Merge, both of which will launch in Europe this week. | The Verge

  • European car rental company Sixt will allow users to book Tier e-scooters through its app in eight German cities. | Electrive

  • The co-creator of Tile has launched a direct-to-consumer scooter startup called Unicorn with an electric model that costs $699 (currently discounted to $549). For $30 a month, users can also subscribe to a service that offers free repairs, GPS tracking, unlimited sharing, and more. | The Verge

  • Chinese ride-hail company Didi has combined its scooter- and bike-rental divisions into a new “two-wheeler” group in a bid to compete for the country’s 300 million motorists. | Technode

  • DC is mulling a raft of e-scooter restrictions, including an overnight ban on riding. | DCist

  • Under Bird’s franchise-like Platform plan, serial entrepreneur and Toronto Raptors founder John Bitove will bring e-scooter rentals to Alberta this month through the entirely Canadian-owned company Bird Canada. | TechCrunch

  • Fifteen U.S. cities have formed a nonprofit called the Open Mobility Foundation with the goal of sharing software tools to manage micromobility data. The coalition, which was spearheaded by LADOT and also counts Bird and Spin among its members, will oversee the MDS. | Wired

Goings On

Ticket sales are now open for Autonomy & The Urban Mobility Summit, October 16-17 in Paris. The annual sustainable mobility event will feature over 250 exhibitors, 8,000 delegates, and a conference program focusing on topics such as shared mobility, micromobility and electrification.

Autonomy is currently offering an Early Bird special with a 30% discount, so don’t miss out. Head here to learn more and reserve your pass today.


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