The skateboarding as an alternative mobility technology

Despite the dispersion of municipal regulations, vandalism and neighborhood complaints about the occupation of pedestrian spaces, electric scooters continue as alternative urban mobility technology. The Technology Platform Cabify has integrated them into its offer, the company rental these devices Lime has surpassed 1.5 million trips in Spain (more than 100 million in 30 countries) and integral control and maintenance companies emerge to facilitate the Service. The sector is growing in the face of demand from its users, who have convened demonstrations on Sunday in defense of these devices and against regulations that limit them

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World No Car-Free Day on Sunday has set the date and limitations envisaged by the Directorate-General for Traffic (DGT) to restrict some models, in line with what has been done in other European countries, has facilitated the opportunity for users convene protests in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Malaga, Murcia, Albacete and León.

Adrián García, a member of one of the personal mobility associations, defends the scooter as a sustainable, complementary environment to the bicycle. "They are electric vehicles, at a price from all over the world, with a low energy consumption (1 kWh per 100 km) and a magnificent solution to the problems of pollution, noise and congestion of cities", the associations defend.

"A vehicle that travels at 30 km per hour cannot go on the sidewalk. They are dangerous toys, they circulate with pedestrians and are left on the sidewalks occupying their spaces," argues José Manuel Contreras, a neighbor of Seville who demands that all vehicles circulate in restricted areas, as the City Council of the Andalusian capital. "These vehicles will be able to drive on the city's cycling tracks. It is not allowed to be circulated on sidewalks, pedestrian areas, or on a road way except in areas declared as Zone 30 or 20 and on streets with a single lane of a direction of movement whose maximum speed is allowed to be limited to a maximum of 30 km/h , provided that there is no cycling route and the traffic is through the centre of the road," according to the regulations

. A scooter driver shares space with motorbikes, vehicles and pedestrians. Paco Puentes

Europe

While in Spain there is still a lack of harmonized regulations that establish the common rules of use, other countries have already developed regulations. Germany, since July, requires a minimum age of 14 years and insurance, limits the speed to 20 km per hour and restricts its use to bike lanes. Austria, Belgium, Finland, Norway, Portugal and Sweden have applied the same regulation as for bicycles and limited permitted powers.

An agent from the Andalusian capital, along with two scooters from a company that rented them without a license. Seville City Council

Waiting for major cities to incorporate regulations that prevent the confrontation between citizens or the proliferation of illegal services (In Seville, 13 electric scooter rental establishments have been located without authorization), the sector continues to grow,

The Cabify technology platform has integrated Movo's electric scooters into its services of driver transport vehicles (VTC), taxis and motorbikes in some Spanish cities. Movo is already present in seven Spanish-speaking countries with 20,000 scooters and plans to double its implementation. "We want to be an active agent in the micromobility transformation we are living and in the design of the cities of the future, that's why we are constantly looking at how to expand our service offering to provide better solutions. The scooter is an alternative already used by thousands of citizens and allows a perfect coexistence with the rest of the mobility alternatives existing in the cities", says the director in Spain of the firm Marta de Eusebio.

In this bet for the scooter stands out the North American Lime, which has exceeded 100 million trips and avoided, according to the company, 40 million kilometers of travel by car and the consumption of 4.5 million liters of fuel. "Madrid was the second European capital after Paris in which this micromobility vehicle was implanted and has also been a leader in its use. Citizens will continue to bet on leaving the car at home to go to work, to their study center or simply to run errands if they feel safe on their way, respected by the other drivers and the city authorities, allowing coexistence and development of the most sustainable forms of mobility", defends the CEO of Lime Iberia, Alvaro Salvat.

A skateboard user rides alongside four shared units parked on a sidewalk in Sevilla Paco Puentes

Two months of service life

Expansion of these services tries not only to address regulatory deficiencies and neighborhood reluctance. They also face everyday vandalism and maintenance issues, as these are vulnerable devices that require frequent repairs and refills. A shared scooter has an average service life of just two months for wear and tear of components, as well as for continuous thefts to market with its parts or for the meaningless wreckage they suffer.

To meet these challenges, companies such as eCity Charge have emerged, which reception, customizes, collects, recharges and redistributes scooters through cities. They currently operate in Madrid, Malaga, Lisbon and Braga and soon begin working in Paris.

A scooter user rides a bike path. Pac

"It is a comprehensive service for electric mobility. We do it all," sums up the director and one of the founders of eCity Charge, Inigo de Pablo. Its response strategy in less than an hour has managed to improve the efficiency of the service and triple the life of the scooters by relocating them when they leave the priority areas of demand, collecting them when they are abandoned, recharging them continuously and replenish or repair them in the shortest possible time

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De Pablo, who shuns the system of hiring freelancers for his services (known as juicers), also advocates the regulation of a sector in which, he says, "there are many jobs at stake". A company like Lime claims to have 700 employees. Such regulation believes that it would be essential not only to set traffic rules and to allow the use of the scooter to be effective as a mobility technology, but also to solve neighborhood conflicts

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In the face of vandalism, the manager believes that, in part, it will be reduced with education and when each rental company manufactures its own models with incompatible parts for other brands and thus prevents the market for stolen parts

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