16 Dec 21

Micromobility is here to stay, but uptake varies per geography

Almost 70% of consumers surveyed by McKinsey in July 2021 said they would be happy to take a bicycle, moped, or e-scooter to work. In other words: micromobility is here to stay. But the uptake varies per country and even per city, the McKinsey study suggests. 

In line with previous results, McKinsey’s latest study shows an increasing number of commuters are willing to consider micromobility as their preferred means of transport between home and work. 

Micromobility tradition

That’s good news on several fronts. More micromobility means drastically lower emission levels, as well as starkly reduced congestion. From the corporate perspective, micromobility can be an important building block of a mobility policy that is more sustainable, more cost-efficient, and more inclusive.

The rising popularity of micromobility options comes with an important caveat, however: the willingness of consumers/commuters to use scooters, bicycles, mopeds, and other small, environmentally friendly means of transport varies strongly per country. 

There is some system to that variation. The willingness to use the option was strongest in countries that already have a long tradition of micromobility. One example is China (86%), another is Italy (81%) – think of all those Vespas zipping through Rome, for example. 

Where car is king

Predictably, the United States, where car was (and to a large extent still is) king, is on the other end of the spectrum. There, only 60% of those surveyed said they would consider micromobility to get to and from work.

Of the various micromobility modes, bicycles were the preferred option. Electrified bicycles offer the longest range of all the modes on offer, and they have the added advantages of offering storage potential (which e-scooters don’t) and being better priced than mopeds. 

  • Nevertheless, mopeds are particularly popular in China (where mopeds up to 25 km/h require neither license nor insurance). 
  • Chinese and Brits were most reluctant to use e-scooters, possibly because of widely publicised safety concerns in both countries.
  • Americans, French, and Germans are most keen on e-scooters, possibly because of well-developed scooter-sharing schemes in those countries, familiarising consumers with this mobility option. 

Important implications

According to McKinsey, its report has important implications for various stakeholders in the micromobility ecosystem: 

  • Given that micromobility preferences vary by geography, shared-mobility providers must understand the city or region in which they operate. 
  • Understanding local micromobility preferences will also help charging and parking operators deploy their solutions more efficiently, minimising the space they take up. 
  • Public transit operators could improve their offer of space to transport various micromobility vehicles, which would also improve multimodal transport.
  • In order to maximally increase the uptake of micromobility, local governments should know which options are more popular in their area. This also goes for corporates looking to offer such options to their staff.

Image: Shutterstock

Authored by: Frank Jacobs