Why Shared Micromobility Will Survive Post-Pandemic
When the stay at home orders are lifted and we get back to work, will we interact with the world differently? How will we use various transportation modes? Some have suggested that shared micromobility, buses and other shared modes (like carshare and rideshare) will be shunned due to fear of germs. It seems that anything with the word “shared” has a new dark cloud over it — from Airbnb rentals to scooters. But we need to parse the health risks more closely to see why not all shared modes are the same. In fact, the health risk of using shared micromobility vehicles, such as kick scooters and bikes, can easily be mitigated. For that reason, shared micromobility will continue to be one of the best options for getting around cities.
Today, we think about the risk of coronavirus infection in two ways: (1) germs on surfaces and (2) germs in the air. We have learned that the virus might live on surfaces for days, depending on the material — but that we can reduce that risk by using disinfectant wipes and wearing gloves. And we have learned that we can avoid germs in the air by staying six feet away from others, wearing masks, and avoiding confined spaces.
How do these lessons apply to shared micromobility? First, we can see that the only risk for shared scooters and bikes is the risk of germs on surfaces — mostly handlebars and brakes — not of germs in the air. These vehicles are single-passenger and have social distancing and fresh air built in. This is important because we can manage the risk of germs on surfaces. Just look at our behavior now for some clues.
Consider the grocery cart. Even at the height of the pandemic, we have been going to grocery stores and using shared grocery carts — after wiping the handles down or wearing gloves. Unlike contaminated air, surfaces can be wiped clean or we can avoid touching them directly with our hands.
For this reason, we will also be able to manage the risk of touching the handlebars and brakes on shared scooters and bikes. They are just like grocery carts. And like grocery carts, it’s more convenient to use the ones that are there instead of bringing your own. As many have said, the best bike/scooter is the one you have with you…