Why is your next car a bicycle?
In the window of a bicycle shop in Copenhagen, a sign says: Your next car is a bicycle.
In this bicycle-friendly city in the world, more than 62% of Copenhageners commute by bike every day. At the same time, the city government is actively preparing for the construction of new bicycle lanes and green belts in order to achieve unimpeded commuting in the morning. In recent years, new bicycles, such as freight and electric bicycles, have also reduced the demand for family cars.
But these trends are not unique to Copenhagen. Around the world, cities are ushering in smarter, healthier, and cheaper vehicles and systems, and they are trying to integrate them into existing transportation modes.
Paris was the first to introduce one of the earliest urban electric bicycle plans, the Vélib 'system, and put it around the world. The system utilizes the innovation of smart cards in the early 21st century to deploy a fleet of approximately 15,000 bicycles for residents and tourists, which is open by the hour. It quickly became a refreshing model, and the city's boulevards began to move away from traffic jams and crowded people.
The system was very successful and inspired similar plans globally: Milan in 2008, London in 2010, and even New York in 2013. To many people's surprise, New York is on the road to becoming a bicycle-friendly city. Lead.
The next wave comes from the east. Chinese startups Mobike and Ofo and Singapore-based oBike use GPS tracking. If you know the location of the bicycle, why do you need a parking pile?
Therefore, the sharing system was born, with obvious advantages in customer use and urban deployment. Before being rolled out to many other cities in 2017, these companies raised billions of dollars in funding and were known as the "unicorn" of Chinese bicycles, with a Silicon Valley valuation of $ 1 billion or more.
So, the problems came one after another.
First, quality. Many bicycles require constant maintenance and are often unusable.
Secondly, since bicycles are not fixed to parking piles, they are more likely to be used improperly, so deliberate vandalism is more likely to occur. Some of them are still in the canals of Amsterdam, and eventually shared bicycles will be piled up in urban bicycle cemeteries around the world, causing pollution problems and making the city more strict in issuing licenses.
Third, the business model is under pressure. Initially, customers' pre-deposits provided funding for the deployment of new bicycles, but market saturation quickly threatened this strategy. As of now, several bicycle startups have gone bankrupt, and Mobike, one of the largest companies, is considering selling most of its European subsidiaries.
However, the micro-travel method solves important urban problems, so it will definitely play a role in future cities.
80% of all trips in the United States are under 12 miles, and in New York City, most do not exceed 2 miles. This is where the car is not particularly competitive, and it is also a convenient place for micro travel tools. Micro vehicles are more energy-efficient and space-saving. If these vehicles are provided with special passages, they will be safer.
In addition, why use a 5-seater, 900 kg SUV to carry people who are often less than 90 kg? If you can directly find the most suitable vehicle for you through your mobile phone, such as bicycles, pileless electric scooters, etc., companies such as Bird, Lime and Bolt are now deployed on major streets. These electric scooter companies have attracted investment from large car operators such as Uber and Lyft, because they may be the earliest signals that mobile methods are rich in biodiversity.
If micro transportation can play a major role in the next few years, cities and investors should plan ahead to avoid similar troubles. For example, in order to avoid the appearance of bicycle burial grounds, cities should begin to provide them with designated locations for parking. This is very suitable for the management of the city's resources, which can generate revenue for the public administration. In order to manage this versatile physical space, there can be a corresponding unique digital platform that allows us to freely choose to ride a bike, scooter, walk, ride a car, take a subway or train and hitchhike with friends. We can call it "mobile network"-an integrated platform similar to the aviation industry decades ago.
The city should also communicate fully with the citizens. Urban technology means using cities as laboratories. The next few years are an important period for conducting experiments. The municipal government should communicate with the citizens and guide them to tolerate failure. This means allowing people to test ideas and try innovations, and use feedback loops to measure user responses.
If we can solve the above problems, the future of micro travel will be bright and will help our cities become healthier and more sustainable. Finally, your next car can, in fact, be a bicycle.