16 Sep 21

“Micromobility benefits outweigh negatives”

How safe is micromobility? It’s a tricky question, but “the benefits outweigh the negatives,” says Thibault Alleyn (Fleet Logistics). To choose wisely, “listen to your employees,” advises Fabio Griemens (FREE NOW for business).

Micromobility is hot (pictured: some of the options available in Prague). E-scooters are zipping across ever more city centres in ever greater numbers – not to mention the legions of shared bicycles, mopeds and other novel mobility modes also competing for space in urban areas. 

Core issues
No wonder the theme for this year’s European Mobility Week (16-22 September) is ‘Safe and Healthy with Sustainable Mobility’. 

Earlier this month, we zoomed in on the safety aspect of micromobility, highlighting some of the core issues:

  • Micromobility users are highly vulnerable – especially those using e-scooters;
  • Regulations are extremely varied, but breaking them can be very expensive;
  • Users urgently need training; governments must offer better rules and infrastructure.

This week, the Smart Mobility Institute (SMI) brought together a number of mobility experts to answer the question: “Employee Choice, Car or Mobility?” An excellent occasion to get the insights of those who know the industry inside-out. 

Here to stay
Micromobility is popular and here to stay, agree both Fabio Griemens, Director Strategy & Operations at FREE NOW for Business; and Thibault Alleyn, Head of Global Mobility Solutions at Fleet Logistics. 

“Micromobility offers freedom in your choice of transport mode, flexibility to combine several transport modes, and responsibility – by reducing CO2 emissions,” says Mr Griemens. 

“It’s great for last-mile mobility,” adds Mr Alleyn. “And it satisfies the widespread demand for individual, fully flexible mobility in an urban environment – an important point, especially post-Covid.”

Added value
Corporate micromobility is an increasingly important proposition. Companies adding this option to their travel policy are offering their employees great added value in terms of making their commute more comfortable.

But companies have to ensure they are doing so in the safest way possible, as a matter of both liability and social responsibility. Being safe makes good business sense – a recent survey by FREE NOW for Business reveals that 52% of business travellers always choose the safest mobility option for their commute. 

At the same time, business travellers are open for something different: 40% would like to use bicycles or e-bikes for their daily commute, and 37% to get to their meetings, while 45% wouldn’t mind exchanging their company car for a mobility budget. However, the challenges for successful corporate micromobility are many, says Mr Alleyn:

“Major concern”
“Safety is a major concern, given the frequent absence of adapted city infrastructure, and of appropriate training for new micromobility users. And then there is the limited knowledge of country-specific legislation, plus practical challenges such as having to carry helmets on international travels.” 

“Safety is our biggest monitoring point for micromobility,” says Mr Griemens. “We only work with partners who feel the same. Our user instructions are clear, and clearly communicated – wear a helmet, respect speed limits, have a driver’s license where it is required, etcetera.”

Mr Alleyn agrees: “The first thing to do for mobility managers offering micromobility to their employees is to offer a platform, or a document, which explains the attention points: that wearing a helmet is absolutely necessary, that appropriate clothing should be worn, and ideally also protective clothing, that the trajectory should be checked upfront – using Google StreetView – and that routes with a separate lane for micromobility should be preferred. And last but not least, that the relevant city and/or country legislation should be reviewed.”

Damages and liability
So yes, employers should take great care to present their employees with the safest possible options for micromobility – also ensuring, for example, that their staff is sufficiently insured when using e-scooters and the like; both in terms of personal damages and third-party liability.

However, when it comes to micromobility, it’s not just corporates, suppliers and users who need to up their game. Governments and regulators also need to step up, says Mr Griemens:

Benefits vs. negatives
“Their first challenge is to get micromobility to cohabitate successfully with cars, buses, pedestrians and all other types of mobility. In other words: infrastructure is essential. We encourage separate lanes for scooters and bicycles, and speed limits in dense urban areas. We need to make urban mobility safe and easy. This requires close collaboration between mobility suppliers, public transport providers, insurers, lawmakers and governments.”

In short, much remains to be done before micromobility is as easy an option for the providers as it is for the users. Yet already now, “we believe the benefits outweigh the negatives,” says Mr Alleyn. “But only if employees are duly informed of the relevant safety issues and other attention points, before actually riding…”

Image: Shutterstock

Authored by: Frank Jacobs