The Sunk Cost Fallacy of Cars

This week, Uber commits to profitability by end of 2020, Boosted shows signs of financial trouble, and a bike-powered e-commerce service delivers 192x faster than Amazon, but first…

Welcome to the Micromobility Newsletter, a weekly missive about mobility, mostly mobility in cities by lightweight utility vehicles such as bikes and scooters. The reason you’re reading this email is that you signed up on our website or came to one of our events.

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Micromobility Insurance Is Expensive, and So Are Legal Missteps

Join micromobility insurance expert Brandon Schuh of Christensen Group, alongside John Wackman and Christy Mennen of Nilan Johnson law firm, for a free one-hour webinar on insurance procurement, safety and risk practices, products liability, regulations, and compliance. They will be answering questions, giving free advice, talking about ways to improve the risk profile of your organization, and sharing insights on what underwriters want to see from policyholders.

Time and Date: February 19th, 11-12PM CST

Register here.

🚨 Attention, Please 🚨

The agenda for Micromobility America drops this week.

Micromobility America is a global stage for innovation, and this year, we are bringing together dozens of crazy-brilliant speakers who are driving some of the most important disruptive technologies in urban mobility. We cannot wait to share more.

And this is only the beginning. We will be updating the agenda to reveal new topics and speakers continuously between now and the event.

Phase one of the agenda will be announced this week via email so, if you aren’t subscribed to our free newsletter yet, we recommend signing up now.

As a reminder, Micromobility America is coming to the Bay Area on April 22-23 and will bring together over a thousand mobility leaders and enthusiasts for a series of engrossing talks, demos, meet-ups, expos, and more. Tickets are on sale now for less than the full General Admission price.


Investors have poured $220 billion into electric, self-driving, and on-demand vehicles in the last ten years. Over on the blog, Horace Dediu looks at why VCs are so fixated on making better cars when “worse cars,” like quadricycles, mopeds, and bikes, could actually scale up in cities. Excerpt below.

Any bet on better cars is an exclusion of a bet on a non-car. Or, to put it another way, a counter-bet is that the world is not looking for a better car, but for a worse car—the iPhone, not a better PC.

When one asks why so many bets are placed on cars, one quickly gets the answer that the “built environment” is that of the car. We live in a car world. A bet on non-cars is bet against what we spent a century building. The infrastructure of roads, parking, and regulations are all oriented around automobiles.

But the premise that what we have built in terms of infrastructure is what we must continue using is no better than a random bet, especially when alternatives are clearly evident.

Read the full article: “What Capital Markets Get Wrong About Mobility



Sanjay Dastoor is betting that building better products and stronger relationships with cities are the keys to making the shared scooter model work. Is he right?

On the latest episode of the podcast, the Skip CEO reflects on his start at Boosted, the San Francisco permit snafu, and more with interviewer Oliver Bruce.

Listen here.

What You Need to Know This Week

  • Leading off, Russia’s largest tech firm, Yandex, has launched an online grocery service in Moscow that can deliver orders to customers’ doors in just 15 minutes. The company’s secret is combining a decentralized network of small warehouses with bike couriers to make the deliveries. For those keeping track at home, Yandex’s 15-minute shipping time is 192x faster than Amazon Prime’s two-day offer. | Bloomberg

  • It’s Copenhagen all over again. In Barcelona, newly passed restrictions will cap the permitted number of shared electric mopeds on the street at 6,958 in total. In a city with a whopping 21 emoped operators, that boils down to just 331 vehicles per company. To put that in perspective, Cooltra, one of the market leaders, will have to remove 80% of its fleet to meet the new regulations. | Sifted

  • Uber says it will be profitable by the fourth quarter of 2020, a year earlier than its previous targets. | Reuters

  • Gordon Murray Design has revealed an autonomous, electric quadricycle that it claims meets car crash safety requirements. Not including its battery back, the vehicle weighs a little less than 1,000 lbs. | Autocar

  • Electric skateboard pioneer Boosted is shedding senior staff and running low on cash. The company’s financial troubles appear to stem from high tariffs on Chinese-made goods and an overly ambitious pivot to scooters. | The Verge

  • Seattle-based ebike company Rad Power Bikes has raised $25 million in an investment round led by Vulcan and Durable Capital. Expect to see a lot more VC activity in the ebike sector in 2020. | Geekwire

  • Sacramento is the second most popular city in the world for Jump bikes and scooters, surpassed only by Paris. Residents of California’s capital, who total just 500,000, have taken nearly a million micromobility trips with Jump since last June. | KCRA

  • Another electric moped startup, Motobee, has launched in Miami. What makes Motobee different than some of its competitors, like Revel, is that it offers daily rentals with unlimited rides between 9AM to 9PM for $29. | Electrek

Image result for Motobee
  • Berlin-based scooter startup Tier announced two new executive hires, a chief commercial officer and a chief operational officer. | TechCrunch

  • Related: Tier scooters are now available to rent through the Whim platform in Helsinki and Vienna. | Whim

  • If less-dense cities and suburbs want dockless scooters, they will need to align regulations with market realities. As David Zipper notes in a new article, less-dense cities are extra challenging for scooter startups when they hand out unlimited operator permits, require mandatory parking from users, and ask that operators remove their fleets at night.

  • Zagster is in talks to bring station-based bikes and scooters to Hartford, Connecticut, a market that Lime exited last year. | Courant

  • An electric three-wheeled, off-road camper? Sure, why not. | Motor1

Elektro Frosch Camper Scooter
  • Why do the Finnish bike so much in winter? The truth is “it’s less about individuals than infrastructure.” | Guardian

  • The number of cycling trips in Brussels edged up 9% last year, fueled by a rise in ebike ridership. | Times

  • Pittsburgh has unveiled a blueprint to triple the combined length of its bike lanes and trails in the next decade. | Gazette

  • Denver, meanwhile, announced plans to add 125 miles of new bike lanes by 2023. | Post

  • Toronto transit planners are looking at creating designated parking areas for scooters, possibly linked to the city’s bike-sharing stations. | Star

  • Bike ridership shot up 20% on San Francisco’s Market Street on the first day after it was closed to cars. | Examiner

  • Next up, SF cycling groups are turning their attention toward getting a protected bike lane on the Embarcadero. | Chronicle

  • Jump bikes are coming back to Providence this spring. | Journal

  • In a powerful new interview with Harvard Business School’s Disruptive Voice podcast, Micromobility Industries co-founder Horace Dediu contemplates the legacy of his friend and mentor, Clayton Christensen, who passed away in January.

    Christensen was a prolific and brilliant analyst, famed for developing the theory of disruptive innovation in the late 1990s. In this interview, Dediu reflects on how Christensen pushed him to rethink his views on transportation, ultimately leading him to formulate the micromobility theory of disruption that comes from lightweight utility vehicles. It’s an origin story well worth the listen.


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