New Urban Mobility Framework: What’s new for active and micro-mobility?
On March 7th 2023, the European Parliament’s Urban Intergroup and Micro-Mobility for Europe jointly organized a debate about active and micro-mobility in the context of the New Urban Mobility Framework. The event aimed to discuss the challenges and opportunities of these alternative modes of transportation in urban areas and their potential to improve the sustainability and efficiency of urban mobility.
The debate brought together various stakeholders, including Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), representatives of the micro-mobility industry, urban planners, and experts in sustainable mobility. Participants highlighted the importance of active and micro-mobility in achieving the goals of the New Urban Mobility Framework, which seeks to promote sustainable, low-emission, and efficient mobility in urban areas.
One of the main topics discussed during the debate was the need to provide dedicated infrastructure for active and micro-mobility, such as cycling lanes and safe spaces for pedestrians. Participants also emphasized the importance of harmonizing technical standards for personal mobility devices to ensure safety and prevent high-speed accidents.
Members of the European Parliament: Andrey Novakov, Andreas Schieder, Ciaran Cuffe, and Marcos Ros Sempere spoke at the event, highlighting the role of public transport as the backbone of urban mobility and the need for a modal shift towards more sustainable and active means of transportation. They also called for the allocation of more funds for active and micro-mobility infrastructure and the promotion of a variety of mobility solutions to improve citizens’ quality of life.
Representatives from the micro-mobility industry, including Pedro Homem de Gouveia from POLIS and Pauline Aymonier from Micro-Mobility for Europe, emphasized the importance of micro-mobility as a complement to public transport, walking, and cycling, and as a ,,gateway drug” to active mobility. They also highlighted the potential of shared micro-mobility services to replace car trips and reduce emissions, as well as the need for a level-playing field among different modes of transportation. The audience also participated in the debate, raising concerns about the lack of technical specifications for personal mobility devices and the need for more data on the modal shift towards active and micro-mobility. They also called for applying sustainable urban mobility indicators to shared mobility services and addressing the challenge of providing sufficient space for micro-mobility infrastructure in cities.
MEP Andrey Novakov (EPP, BG) stated that “we need to create a common standard for micro-mobility which is in the interest of the industry. These standards would make everybody safe and tolerant of the vehicle”. Furthermore, he acknowledged the role micro-mobility can play in particular for first and last-mile trips and called for the coexistence of modes. MEP also said that we need to make all types of transport affordable and safe recognising the needs of every citizens in urban area. Mr Novakov highlighted that we need to focus on using EU funds to reorganise public space, stating that new EU fund are needed in order to make a long lasting change in urban areas. ,,Petrol cars are now the only way to access remote and rural areas especially” – MEP said, proposing that all kinds of transport should be included in cities. He also stated that micro – mobility can support physical activities, especially bikes, electrical or non – electrical. MEP Novakov thinks that it is the future of the railway and other ways of transport to seal CO2 emissions. MEP believes that in order to push forward the micro-mobility industry we have to make the users feel safe. Member States should invest a lot in the infrastructure, which is safe, and that will let people to get much easier access to use for example bikes or scooters. And for that we need some common standards.
MEP Andreas Schieder (S&D, AT) identified public transport as the backbone of urban mobility and agreed that we want to have a strong modal split between the different modes of transport and emphasised his commitment to decarbonise urban mobility and working towards the implementation of sustainable urban mobility strategies. MEP Schieder also said that there is a big need of discussion on European Policies and Frameworks, encouraging to a large discussion about EU Policies in urban areas. He also stated that ,,there is not only one unified approach to those issues, sometimes there are different realities and different approaches, and we need to look onto those issues deeper”. He also added that New Urban Mobility Framework work – in – progress final negotiations are getting closer to the end in the European Parliament. At the end of the discussion, MEP expressed that the New Urban Mobility Framework is a way to implement better changes for cities – less noise, less pollution, more mobility and also better life conditions.
MEP Ciaran Cuffe (Greens/EFA, IE) acknowledged that there is an absolute potential for micro-mobility as part of the solution for cities. We need a modal shift, away from more harmful modes to the modes which are good for cities and neighbourhoods. Furthermore, regarding urban space, Cuffe noted that the dimensions of private vehicles are increasing, which adds to the scarcity of space available for other modes. MEP Cuffe expressed that ,,This are exciting times for cities, for mobility. Explosion of micro – mobility is astonishing”, adding that the role of the EU in the process is to set a regulation framework which will encourage an update on a more sustainable mode of travelling”. MEP also added that the explosion in micro – mobility is a transformational change for our cities. ,,There are also challenges” – he said. Challenges, coming for those who use traditional models of transport, who feel threatened by new form of transport. There are also challenges in the marketplace, new companies rise and fall with new devices that are in competition with each other in the marketplace. The danger of speed was also highlighted – ,,There is a significant new number of accidents from people traveling on scooters” – MEP said. The suggestions that we had seen from the European Transport safety Council are positive – that we should look for reducing the speed that will be 20/25 kilometres per hour. Not only would that reduce the danger for the accidents, but will also allow micro – mobility users to share space more comfortably with bikes. ,,As we move into the 21st century, we want to have cities that are safe, attractive and clean not only to work in, but also to rest in and spend our free time” – MEP Cuffe stated.
MEP Marcos Ros Sempere (S&D, ES) highlighted the need to reorganise public space in European cities by allocating more funds for active and micro-mobility to be accessible to all levels of society. MEP said that we are clearly facing a big transformation of our city models. ,,We need to change from our 20th century model cities where we gave all the public space to cars. Now, we need our streets with less cars” – MEP stated. A new way to travel in cities would be a combination of all models of transportation, starting from public transport, then pedestrian movement, then active mobility, with micro – mobility. But there are differences in importance of those ways of transport – the private transport should not be as important as public transport. ,,We need to find a way in which we will incorporate active mobility and also micro – mobility” – MEP said. ,,We need to reorganise public space in European Union cities” – he added. MEP Ros Sempere, also highlighting the need for investments in order to reorganizes urban areas. According to Ros Sempere, rethinking urban space and promoting a variety of mobility solutions will have a positive effect on citizens’ quality of life.
Pedro Homem de Gouveia, POLIS, called micro-mobility the ‘gateway drug to active mobility’. He stressed that we cannot have coexistence without lowering speed limits on our streets, not only for micro-mobility but also for private cars. Furthermore, he noted that we have a disappropriate allocation of space but we also have a completely disappropriate allocation of speed. He suggested sharing more space in cities for all modes of transport while lowering the speed. ,,We need to get the balance right across all sections of transport”, stated, highlighting that we need to coexist, we need to feel safe in urban areas. He also stated the importance of new technologies, such as geolocation, which can have a great potential in reducing accidents on streets and improving overall travelling. ,,Cities are stepping forward to promote sustainable mobility – we can’t just ask their mayors to be brave and stand alone – it is critical that the European Parliament steps forward to support those politicians promoting sustainable mobility by any means possible”. He also added that current infrastructure does not allow any micro – mobility businesses to have a fair competition in order to deliver the best type of sustainable transport. This needs to be changed.
Pauline Aymonier, Micro-Mobility for Europe, emphasised that active and micro-mobility are two sides of the same coin. Micro-mobility is not only about e-bikes and e-scooters but it is about creating a multimodal transport network that is more sustainable, safe and offers an alternative to car-dominated mobility. She also said that even by guiding Member States and cities on how to adopt the safe and sustainable we can set new good practises. ,,The priorities for us is to talk about micro – mobility and look on the transport systems more holistically, to regulate more holistically. I think that it’s about how we can create multi – modal transport network that is more sustainable, more safe and that can provide more area for electro mobility usage” – she stated. She also added that up until now there has been a tendency to look at micro – mobility and regulate micro – mobility separately from other means of transport. But that is changing. Apart from that, Aymonier highlighted that shared e-scooters show a twice lower fatality risk than private e-scooters, based on data of 200 million trips from 2021. Moreover, she stated that between 25% and 55% of shared micro-mobility users report regularly using shared e-scooters to go to or from a public transit station, with 12-17 % of trips replacing car rides. ,,We are absolutely convinced of the big role that EU can play in sustainable mobility” – said Aymonier, also stating that ,,The role of the EU in the process is to set a regulation framework which will encourage an update on a more sustainable mode of travelling”.
Role of micro-mobility in the New Urban Mobility Framework (NUMF)
On 10 January 2023, the European Parliament’s Urban Intergroup and Micro-Mobility for Europe hosted a debate on the role of micro-mobility in the New Urban Mobility Framework (NUMF). Speakers included president MEP Jan Olbrycht (EPP, PL) and Vice-Presidents MEP Fabienne Keller (RE, FR) and MEP Andreas Schieder (S&D, AT) of the Urban Intergroup, Daniel Mes, Member of the Cabinet EVP Timmermans, Jens Müller, Policy and Research Lead, Clean Cities Campaign and Welmoed Neijmeijer from Micro-Mobility for Europe.
Panelists discussed the opportunities created by micro-mobility, as well as the challenges that the sector is confronted with. The need for more and better infrastructure for micro-mobility users, better integration with public transport, better education for road safety, the existing patchwork of applicable traffic rules, and the lack of a harmonised technical standard were raised as obstacles.
While speakers acknowledged the important role that micro-mobility already plays in diversifying the urban mobility landscape by reducing congestion and emissions, they called for action on:
- Improving infrastructure: more space and safe infrastructure encourages the safe use of micro-mobility and cycling
- Working towards harmonised technical standards: to ensure an innovation-friendly framework, EU technical requirements for personal light electric vehicles is needed for e-scooters and e-bikes
- Encourage multimodality: micro-mobility strengthens public transport via first and last-mile trips and by making the combination more attractive, car dependency can be reduced
MEP Andreas Schieder (S&D, AT) stated that New Urban Mobility Framework comes right on time. There is a pressing need of changes in the transport in the cities, especially after the outbreak of COVID-19. He also highlighted the potential for effective use of micro-mobility, in relation to the lack of personnel (drivers) in public transport. He stated, “we can see an enormous amount of increase in the usage of e-scooters in the last year which is coming together with additional questions of infrastructure, safety and rules for parking”. MEP Schieder summarised the meeting saying that we are currently in the moment of transition and we need to know which kind of tools we can use and how we can learn from other means of transport (usage of space, safety of users, co-existence with other means of transport). At the end, he called for organising another micro-mobility meeting in the future.
MEP Jan Olbrycht (EPP, PL) identified that there is a lack of definition when it comes to micro-mobility, which should be addressed, as we need to have one understanding of what we are fighting about and only when the definition is set then EU can develop the specific regulations. Furthermore, he highlighted that “we cannot solve problems of transport without urban policy”. However, unfortunately, currently there is no clear urban policy in the European Parliament.
MEP Fabienne Keller (RE, FR) acknowledged that “sharing concepts enable citizens to try new services. We have to be careful with the rules imposed to not discourage their use” and noted that considering the weight of cars, “walking, cycling, e-scooter and e-bikes are a much preferred option”. She mentioned that there is an issue of security in Strasbourg, where the fines on micro-mobility misuses and bad practices are so high that the authorities decide not to enforce them. We need to have better rules of regulations in place. MEP Keller stated that she sees the competitions between shared and not-shared means of transport but they should complement each other. There is much need to invest in hubs and parkings for micro-mobility users and share good practises.
MEP Marcos Ros Sempere (S&D, ES) – rapporteur for opinion the New EU Urban Mobility Framework in the REGI committee admitted that there are 6 main topics in his opinion where he calls for European funding to improve multimodal, sustainable mobility focusing on public transportation and shared mobility. Moreover, he asked for only funding for mobility projects that improve the urban mobility indicators.
Daniel Mes (Cabinet EVP Timmermans) stated that “banning micro-mobility in cities is not a desirable outcome from the point of view of a member of cabinet of EVP Timmermans”. He also highlighted the contribution of young people in using micro-mobility as a sustainable form of transport. He said that “EU is also about building alliances” and that “we should respect the local part”. He also indicated that the European Commission is working on this issue.
Jens Müller, Clean Cities Campaign, referring to car dependency stated that “We urgently need to use all available options to reduce the use of polluting cars in our cities. There are plenty of workable options available to mayors to make everyone’s life better and tackle the climate crisis by letting citizens jump on shared bikes or e-scooters, while putting in place measures that guarantee road safety and a fair sharing of scarce public space”.
Welmoed Neijmeijer, Micro-Mobility for Europe, emphasised that “to maximise the societal benefits of micro-mobility solutions, infrastructure is needed and authorities must move away from car-centric spatial planning”. She also mentioned, “Brussels made good work for e-scooters and bikes”. Ms Neijmeijer called for the ending of fragmentation on the markets and getting harmonised technical rules at the European level. She agreed that we are in a transition period, that now it’s time for a new way of rearranging the cities and with that it is essential to ask right question ex. what and how people think about transportation.
Voices from the audience:
Annick Roetynck, LEVA-EU, agreed that there is no definition on micro-mobility, but there should be, because we are confronted with a range of terms, and as a result of that there is no real legislation in Europe. She also stated that we should make a clear distinction between technical regulations, and look at what already exists at the European level, and what can be improved.
Kevin Mayne, Cycling Industries Europe, mentioned that what is wanted is less impact of private cars use in the cities. There is an enormous danger in the conversations today that we micro focus on micro topics like micro-mobility. However, there is also an opportunity to say don’t dive deep into micro-mobility, dive deep into the change we really need to make and the change is the way we move. He underlines that there is a bigger picture which is more space for the sustainable modes, more space in parking, more hubs.
Ulrich Fikar, Association of German cities, said that lack of definition of micro-mobility raises uncertainty for German cities how to differentiate what comes on the road what comes on the pathways. He also mentioned that we do not need to get into competition between active modes and micro-mobility that is electric powered. Active modes should be still a priority for cities.
Sebestian Schlebusch, Dott, stated that there is still a big discussion on safety and because of that Micro-Mobility for Europe shared first-of-its-kind factsheet on incident data involving shared e-scooters in Europe.