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New research shows just how much e-scooters help with traffic — and how much pollution they eliminate

Researchers note that "cities will need to make additional investments" in infrastructure for even more benefits.


Photo Credit: iStock

According to two recent studies, e-scooters may be doing some very good things for the environment.

The first study, published in the journal Nature Energy, found that micro-mobility devices, such as e-scooters and e-bikes, can reduce traffic congestion and decrease carbon pollution in urban environments. 

That study came about after Atlanta banned e-scooters because of several car accidents involving them. However, researchers say these options save an annual average of 17.4% in travel time across the country.

"To accelerate the adoption of micro-mobility and achieve its associated sustainability benefits, we argue that cities will need to make additional investments in both physical and digital infrastructure," the researchers wrote. "For physical infrastructure, land use and space allocation will require longer-term planning such as converting lanes usually reserved for cars into bike lanes that can be used for micro-mobility."

Another study, which was commissioned by the e-scooter company Lime and prepared by analysts at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research, found that the newest generation of e-scooters are some of the lowest pollution-creating modes of transport available.

That study looked at mobility in six cities including Berlin, Dusseldorf, Melbourne, Paris, Seattle, and Stockholm. It found that shared e-scooters can reduce carbon emissions even more than shared e-bikes. And it makes sense, as e-scooters are solar-powered, eliminating the need for charging or gasoline.

"The largest shift effects are from walking, public transit, ride-hailing, and private vehicles to shared micro-mobility," wrote the researchers. "In all six cities studied, shared micro-mobility shows emission reduction compared to the modes replaced. This effect is more positive for shared e-scooters than shared e-bikes, due to differences in their relative embedded carbon and life spans."

The researchers say the results also point to the importance of protected bike lanes in cities and "travel cost and time increases for individual motorized transport."

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