The next front in the scooter wars? The Persian Gulf

This week, Bird’s new ride is a regular crimefighter, a new study casts doubt on e-scooters’ eco-friendliness, and—déjà vu—Lyft is recalling its e-bikes over safety, but first…

Introducing August Special

Hard as it is to believe, Micromobility Europe is less than two months away.

For those who are new in town, we are bringing leaders of both the private and public sectors, as well as enthusiasts and influencers from all around the world, to Berlin on October 1 for a full day of talks, workshops, and networking opportunities focused on the future of lightweight electric transportation. You can check out our jam-packed agenda here, featuring new speakers and sessions added weekly.

If you plan on coming, now is the time to book.

This month only, conference tickets are €240 off the General Admission price. Plus, if you want to bring a group, the price per person drops an extra €100 for every ticket you purchase up to four.

Get on it before this deal goes away 👈🎟️

The Spoken Word 🎧

As our own Horace Dediu likes to say, “If you want to understand cars, study roads. If you want to understand micromobility, study parking.”

In the latest episode of the podcast, he and Oliver Bruce discuss Donald Shoup’s landmark book, The High Cost of Free Parking, and why micromobility offers a compelling counterpoint to the dominant mindset that has existed around parking for the last 70 years.

Listen here.

The Written Word ✍️

Over on the blog, Horace spells out where the word “micromobility” comes from: “Micro can refer to the vehicles used but it also can refer to the distances traveled. It turns out that they are related: small distances are better traveled with small vehicles.”

Read the full article here.

What You Need to Know This Week

  • Circ is officially the first international micromobility provider to launch in the Gulf Region. The Berlin-based startup, which until now operated only in Europe, has established a regional HQ and deployed e-scooters in Abu Dhabi. | Gulf News

  • … meanwhile local Emirati outfit Careem appears to have designs on the capital as well. The Dubai-based ride-sharing company, which earlier this year acquired a bike-sharing service and was itself acquired by Uber, is in talks to launch scooters rentals there. | The National

  • … and Circ’s hometown rival may not be far behind. Berlin native Tier has quietly launched a map of Abu Dhabi on its app, although it doesn’t appear to have any vehicles on the ground yet.

  • Emission-free? Not quite. A new life-cycle assessment by researchers at North Carolina State University concludes that dockless electric scooters produce more greenhouse-gas emissions per passenger mile than high-ridership buses, electric mopeds, and e-bikes. As always, when assessing the environmental impact of new modes of transportation, it really comes down to what kinds of trips they replace. The study finds that automobiles, for example, produce twice as much CO2 emissions as scooters. | MIT Tech Review

  • Lyft is pulling its Bay Wheels e-bikes from San Francisco after several of them caught fire due to problems with their batteries. This is the second time this year the company has had to recall its electric fleet over safety concerns caused by a mechanical failure. | Chronicle

  • … meanwhile Uber is suing Chicago over its exclusive bike-share contract with Lyft. | Sun-Times

  • Bird has unveiled a slick new e-scooter that comes equipped with an arsenal of anti-vandalism upgrades. The Bird Two features self-reporting damage sensors and anti-theft encryption sensors, puncture-proof tires, an anti-tipping kickstand, and seamless screws to reduce the likelihood of injuries and deter foul play. Plus its larger battery (50% more capacity than the Bird One) means less money spent on charging. All in all, the scooter represents Bird’s most serious attempt yet to rein in operational costs and limit depreciation. | Engadget

  • A spate of incidents involving intoxicated scooter-riders has Germany on edge as Oktoberfest approaches. A coalition of German cities is calling for stricter regulations and will propose new rules shortly. | The Guardian

  • Washington, D.C. is launching a four-month moped-sharing pilot. | Streetsblog

  • Big news for any scooter startup not named Scoot or Skip: San Francisco has opened up the process for more fleet operators to apply for permits. The city also plans to raise its vehicle caps from less than 1,000 scooters per company to somewhere between 1,000 to 2,500 each. | TechCrunch

  • “Wow. Look at These Astounding Photos of Abandoned Dockless Vehicles in America.” Finally, someone gets it. | Slate

  • Gone in 60 seconds? Digital Trends has retracted a report claiming that it was able to nick VanMoof’s “impossible to steal” S2 electric bike in one minute. | Digital Trends

  • Stepping up its enforcement of dockless mobility, Beijing impounded almost 400,000 improperly parked shared bikes in the first half of 2019. During that same period, according to city officials, only 16 percent of shared bikes were used on a daily basis. | China Daily

  • … maybe they should link up with designer Qiang Huang, the Central Saint Martins graduate who is repurposing discarded shared bikes to create industrial-style furniture. | Curbed

  • Audi unveiled a new electric microvehicle called the e-tron Scooter, a skateboard/scooter hybrid that riders can steer with a handlebar or control with their feet. It will be available for purchase in late 2020 for $2,200. | Forbes

  • Baltimore has granted dockless e-scooter and bike permits to Lime, Spin, Bolt, and Jump. | Sun

  • Bird’s monthly scooter rental program, currently available in San Francisco, Miami, and Barcelona, may not be as convenient as short-term rentals or biking, according to a new review. “Bird and its fellow electric scooter providers have experienced a meteoric rise because of a simple premise: a scooter you rent spontaneously for a short period of time that you don’t have to take care of or worry about when you’re not riding it. A monthly program like this, where I’m encouraged to use it every day and liable for its well-being, injects all sorts of complications.” | The Verge

  • In search of a new hate read? Look not further than “How Jaywalking Could Jam Up the Era of Driverless Cars.” | NYT

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