Salvador García-Ayllón riding an e-scooter on the streets of Cartagena (Spain), Source: Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena

It turns out e-scooters might not be able to save the urban air

It turns out e-scooters might not be able to save the urban air

This is what the analysis by researchers from Spain and Cyprus points to

At least the cities will get cleaner. This is how most of the frustrated urban residents tried to seek calm and composure in the chaos of a COVID pandemic and resulting lockdowns and restrictions on mobility. Many also saw the parallel rise in micromobility options, such as e-scooters and e-bikes as a paradigm shift that will inspire people to ditch their personal cars or even crowded public transit.

According to researchers from the Polytechnic University of Cartagena (UPCT) (Spain) and the Cyprus University of Technology, however, the trend in the wake of recovering from the pandemic seems to point in the exact opposite direction.

"The habit of using the private car has been reinforced," remarks Salvador García-Ayllón who is the researcher from the UPCT School of Roads and Mines. This phenomenon is not being compensated by the strong increase in the use of electric scooters, as can be seen from the pollution rates in cities.

What needs to be done then?

According to Mr García-Ayllón these dynamics hold true across the board in Europe. The research carried out a geostatistical spatial analysis of the relationship between the variation in the behaviour patterns of urban mobility and the evolution of pollution levels in different parts of the cities in the years 2019, 2020 and 2021.

"In many European cities urban centres and entry points, that are traditionally more saturated by traffic, have increased their levels of pollution despite the fact that these levels were initially reduced by the pandemic,” he added.

The researchers conclude that relying on micromobility alone would not be enough to bring about a radical change in air quality – in fact, the trendy popularity might be masking what really goes on. The scientists instead propose to local authorities to put their focus on something else.

"The change in mobility habits due to the pandemic makes the implementation of low-emission zones more necessary, which will be mandatory by law in all cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants as of 2023.” That is the advice offered by Salvador García-Ayllón.



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