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11 Jan 2022, 13:44
Edgar Meza

Shared e-scooters causing overall increase of emissions in urban mobility – study

Die Zeit / Clean Energy Wire

The proliferation of electric kick scooters in European cities in recent years cause more damage than benefits for the environment, Daniel Reck, a researcher with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, told newspaper Die Zeit in an interview. An ETH study that collected data from 540 users found that shared e-scooters usually do not replace cars, but rather trips on foot, by bike or public transport, Reck said. Only 12 percent of e-scooter trips replace car trips, while 50 percent simply replaced walks. “The bottom line is that shared e-scooters are currently damaging the climate,” Reck stresses. The researchers found that a shared e-scooter causes an average of 51 grams of CO2 per kilometre more than the means of transport it replaces over its entire life cycle. The study included emissions caused by the e-scooters’ manufacture and regular battery charging as well as collection and reparking and combined that CO2 balance with its findings on mobility behaviour. Even if e-scooter sharing companies were to use more sustainable means of charging and distribution, the vehicles would still have a negative impact due to the manufacturing process and user behaviour, he added. A better solution would be privately owned scooters, which tend to be used for an average of five years compared to the two-year lifespans of shared scooters and causes 16 grams of CO2 per kilometre less than the means of transport they replace.

Upon their introduction in Germany in 2019, shared e-scooters have been hailed by proponents as the kind of clean urban mobility that contributed to the transport transition. In a joint paper at the time, the German Association of Cities, the Association of Towns and Municipalities together with think tank Agora Verkehrswende proposed guidelines to better manage e-scooters on city roads in order for them to better contribute to sustainable mobility.

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