Transport contributes a quarter 1 of London’s CO2 emissions so will play a vital role in achieving the Mayor of London’s target for the city to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. 2 In 2019, 36 per cent of trips were made by car, another 37 per cent by public transport, 25 per cent by walking, and 2 per cent by cycling (including e-bikes). Following the economic ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, improving Londoners’ access to modes of travelling around their local area and the city more broadly could play an important role in the recovery of London’s high streets. There is an opportunity to reduce the use of privately owned cars by enabling more people to cycle and use other forms of ‘micromobility’, such as e-bikes and e-scooters. Not only would this support the city to become carbon neutral, but it could also lead to cleaner air, less congested roads, safer streets, and increased mobility for Londoners.
It is important to consider who stands to benefit and who risks losing out from any changes to how people travel in London. At present, those who cycle in London do not accurately represent the city’s population – they are more likely to be relatively young, affluent, male, and white. Policy must ensure that all Londoners, including those currently less likely to cycle or use other forms of micromobility, are supported to make more use of micromobility. This is crucial not only because being attentive to existing inequality in the city and seeking to redress it is a worthy goal, but it will also be essential to realising the wider opportunities presented by micromobility, such as reducing London’s carbon footprint.
This report seeks to synthesise existing evidence about the opportunities and risks posed by increased access to micromobility and to provide evidence-based recommendations for how to support their use in London.
Our aim is to inform policy with new thinking and evidence and develop a pathway to building a ‘gold standard’ low carbon micromobility ecosystem in London.
Opportunities presented by micromobility
Use of micromobility could lead to reduced use of private cars.
- Two thirds of car trips in London could be made by bike, e-bike, and likely by e-scooter in 20 minutes or less, with most of these trips occurring in outer London. 3
- Studies in France suggest that between 8 and 10 per cent of those using a shared e-scooter would have used a car or hailed a taxi, had an e-scooter not been available. 4
- Survey data from France suggests that shared e-scooter riders have not significantly reduced how much they walk or use public transport. 5
- Survey data from Salford suggest that micromobility is commonly used as part of a trip involving public transport, with 27 per cent of people who had ridden an e-scooter in the city saying that they had at some point combined riding an e-scooter with riding a bus or a tram, and 12 per cent with taking a train.
Conventional bikes, e-bikes, and are more environmentally friendly modes of travel than private car use, taxi or ride-hailing.
- For the same distance travelled by the same number of people, privately owned micromobility modes emit up to 90 per cent less CO2 than a conventional privately owned car, depending on the vehicle type. 6
- Shared micromobility vehicles, used for short term hire, emit more CO2 than privately owned micromobility vehicles, but up to 64 per cent less than a conventional privately owned car. 7
As well as reducing London’s carbon footprint, increased micromobility use could result in a reduction in air pollution from combustion engines which are dangerous to Londoners’ health.
- The equivalent of between 3,600 to 4,100 deaths in London were estimated to be attributable to air pollution from all sources in 2019. 8
- Depending on the type of vehicle, micromobility produces very little if any harmful pollutants at the point of use compared to privately owned cars, though some are emitted in the production and charging of e-bikes and e-scooters, and the operational services of shared schemes, which vary between operators.
Congestion in London could be substantially reduced if more people used micromobility, in combination with public transport, instead of driving private cars.
- London drivers spend, on average, 149 hours a year in traffic, costing the
economy an estimated £4.9 billion annually. 9
- Where cycle lanes have been introduced in London, congestion has not
- If more people switched from driving a privately owned car to cycling, riding an e-bike or e-scooter, in combination with public transport, the city’s roads would be less congested.
Millions of Londoners who currently have limited choice about how to travel could be supported to travel around their area if they had access to micromobility, and this could help them to access public transport for part of their journey.
- The proportion of trips made by bike has doubled since 2000, though growth has been slower since 2010, growing by 20 per cent between 2010-2019. 11
- However, the proportion of trips made by cycling varies considerably across London, from 8.9 per cent in Hackney to 0.5 per cent in Hillingdon. 12 People living in inner London are more likely to cycle than those in outer London. 13
Risks associated with micromobility
Increased use of micromobility could pose a risk to the safety of riders and non-riders if vehicles are ridden unsafely or in unsafe environments. The evidence suggests that encouraging more people to travel by micromobility instead of private car or motorcycle is likely to lead to safer streets.
- A trip by walking or cycling is less likely than a trip by car or motorcycle to result in someone dying in a road accident. 14, 15
- Two per cent of people injured or killed in road traffic accidents in
London in 2019 were in a collision involving a pedal cycle. 16
- Collisions involving cyclists are much more likely to injure the rider than
- Cars and larger vehicles are involved in over 80 per cent of conventional
bike crashes which result in the death of a rider, internationally. 12
- Evidence about the safety of newer modes of micromobility is limited but
appears to be similar to that for conventional bikes. 12
Some Londoners have better access to micromobility than others.
- Those in outer London have less access than other Londoners to cycle lanes which are separated to some extent from car traffic and to on-street parking to park their bikes when they arrive at their destination, as well as cycle hangars on their street to park their bike if they can’t fit it in their house. 20
- Shared micromobility schemes that have existed in London in recent years have overwhelmingly operated in inner London. 21
- Existing evidence suggests that the people who use micromobility tend not to accurately represent the population of the city they live in. For instance, cyclists in London are more likely than the average Londoner to be young, male, white, employed, and to have a relatively high income. 22
- Emerging evidence about the users of shared micromobility internationally finds that riders tend to be young, male, and to have a higher income. 23
- There is less evidence available about people who ride e-bikes and e-scooters, but some international studies suggest that they appeal to a different, and in some ways more representative, group of riders. 24
Key principles for micromobility in London
Increased use of micromobility in London has the potential to bring about a range of benefits, including to the city’s carbon footprint, its air quality, the level of congestion in the city, and Londoners’ ability to move around cheaply, easily, and enjoyably. On the other hand, micromobility carries some risks to the safety of riders and pedestrians, and the benefits may not be accessible to all Londoners; these risks appear smaller for micromobility than for many other forms of transport but are worth considering.
Below, we set out the key principles that we believe should guide any investment or policy seeking to increase the use of micromobility in London. These principles seek to enable policymakers to navigate a path that makes the most of the opportunities of micromobility while safeguarding the interests of Londoners, including those who do not use micromobility.
Policy seeking to increase the use of micromobility in London should:
- Put pedestrians’ interests first, including their safety and convenience.
- Consider the experiences of current and potential users of
micromobility to ensure that policies meaningfully contribute to making
micromobility more accessible to all people across London.
- Contribute to net zero carbon emissions, reducing the carbon footprint
of travel in the city.
- Make it possible for all Londoners to use micromobility modes,
focusing on groups who are currently less like to use it, including
To make the most of the opportunities presented by micromobility at this
critical moment, we recommend the following. Our recommendations are set
out in full in Part 3.
To provide a consistent approach across London and the UK:
- National government should give Transport for London (TfL) the power to make arrangements for shared schemes for micromobility on behalf of the whole city. TfL should collaborate with local authorities and operators in a way that delivers city-wide provision of shared schemes for micromobility.
- National government should legalise private ownership and riding, as well as shared schemes, of micromobility vehicles, such as e-scooters, that can be ridden safely alongside conventional bicycles. This should include vehicles which meet minimum standards, such as a maximum permitted speed and the presence of lights, both at the point of sale and while being ridden.
- The Mayor of London should update the Transport Strategy to reflect the potential to extend the role of micromobility for travel in London.
To enable sustainable and active travel:
- TfL should develop a single, distance based road user charging scheme for users of cars and larger vehicles to encourage use of more sustainable modes of transport, including micromobility, and discourage use of private cars.
- TfL should seek to work with operators to integrate payment mechanisms for shared micromobility with payments for public transport in London.
To provide enough space to ride and park micromobility vehicles:
- The Greater London Authority (GLA) and local authorities should work together to ensure there is enough parking for current and projected demand for micromobility vehicles of all types, so that more Londoners have access to parking where they live, at transport hubs, and at their destination.
- TfL should review the characteristics of micromobility parking design via the London Cycling Design Standards to ensure it suits the needs of Londoners and the requirements of all types of micromobility vehicle. This should include a focus on safety for users, including well-lit parking; security of storage; and safety and convenience for pedestrians.
- TfL, the GLA and the boroughs should require Equality Impact Assessments for larger parking and infrastructure projects, to ensure that they systematically take equality into account.
- TfL and London boroughs should regularly review the current and projected demand for road space for micromobility (currently cycle lanes) and expand them as needed.
To ensure that micromobility is safe for riders and pedestrians:
- Operators of shared vehicle schemes should use penalties and rewards, including price incentives, to encourage safe riding and parking, such as reducing the incentive to rush through traffic and increasing the incentive to park appropriately.
- TfL and local authorities should invest in the expansion of delivery of ‘micromobility training’ and publicity.
- Where pavement riding of vehicles travelling significantly faster than walking pace persists, and where electric micromobility vehicles travel above legal limits, police should enforce bans on unsafe riding.
To make micromobility accessible to all Londoners:
- National government should offer tax incentives and loans to all citizens wanting to buy a micromobility vehicle.
- TfL, providers, the GLA and boroughs should continue to develop and deliver public messaging about micromobility to encourage take up by those least likely to think of micromobility as for them.