Micromobility and levelling up

March 29, 2022


Levelling up is at the very heart of this current Government's agenda. It is about distributing opportunities evenly throughout the UK. Not just in the South East or one area over another.

Boris Johnson in 2021 says about levelling up in the summer of 2021: “ Everyone knows that talent and energy and enthusiasm and flair are evenly spread across the UK, evenly spread, It is the opportunity that is not and it is the mission of this government to unite and level up across the whole UK. Boris goes on to say: ”Levelling up can only be achieved with a strong and dynamic wealth creating economy.“ Why has the rise of Micromobility have anything to do with levelling up? The reasons are long and varied. By driving down the cost of delivery with electric Cargo bikes in urban areas. To reducing fuel poverty in rural areas. By reducing traffic and improving overall productivity as car drivers switch to the micromobility offerings.

With research showing the sweet spot is the 3 mile car journey that is mostly replaced by micromobility for personal travel. It is this journey that domestic car use is at it's most likely to be replaced by micromobility.

The power the car gives you can now be replicated by and large by what micromobility offers. Driving the price down and increasing the access to what the car gives with personal transportation.

The fact that they are making 2023 a year when micromobility will be legislated for shows this Government thinks that Micromobility and levelling up are part of the same.

What are the fundamentals that make micromobility so aligned with levelling up:

Having the power to move around an area and beyond without using public transport in your own time is only really equipped to those who have a car.

It is those who are without a car are left with a biycle. If the current legislation stays in place, the option of Escooters is still prohibited and for those with pedal assist ebikes the power continues to be low.

Why the current 1988 transport act reinforces inequality;

The 1988 transport act defines what is a car. The rub is the maximum an ebike can be powered is 250 KW/h up to 15.5 mph with pedal assist not throttle assist.

Anything else over or different to this would have to undergo an MOT. Escooters fail even without going over top speed as they are not pedal assist.

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As the cost of fuel continues to climb the price of running a car is prohibited expensive for a lower salaries. While electric car have their own green issues.

We are currently in a situation where those with access to cars who are those who can continue to afford cars gain access to the most and best opportunities both in their area and beyond.

So if the ubiquitous travel that car brings also brings better more valuable opportunities to those who can benefit from. Then disproportionally the richer individuals who by their very nature do not need levelling up.

What can the Government do about it:

As Baroness Vere has said recently in a House of Lords debate. In 2023 the department of Transport will set to legislate for the micromobility provision. Setting out a new class of vehicle including what is likely be called as it is in Ireland the 'Personally transporter'.

The Likely Limits of the new laws around micromobility

What the limits and the extend the micromobility legislation is yet to be seen.

Grant Shapps has said to Micromobility news that the data from the escooter trails is what will guide them'.

This potentially can mean all new laws around micromobility is seen through the lense of the escooter trails. Binding the legislation to what will be nuanced data will further restrict the growth of micromobility. Add in the pressure coming from safety groups which are often in the pockets of car companies. Organisations that do the bidding of car companies to restrict the market challenge that micromobility brings.

Overall outcome of preventing a fuller and wider grasp of the power of mircomoility for levellig up will limit the access to the opportunities that the “levelling up agenda” aims to spread across the country.