‘A Better Normal’ – Limes Wraps Up Global Webinar Series Looking at ANZ Micromobility in the Post-COVID Age
With stay-at-home restrictions easing across Australia and New Zealand, commuters, residents and visitors are once again moving around our cities. But the much needed stimulus to local businesses is not without concern. In a post-COVID world that is hyper-aware of the need for maintained social distancing to reduce transmission risks, public transport poses concerns for many.
To explore this topic further and consider how Lime can best support Australia and New Zealand’s COVID-19 recovery, we hosted a public webinar that consulted with leading voices from businesses, tourism, cities and micromobility. The webinar titled “Preparing for the day after: How can micromobility get communities moving post-COVID?” was held on Tuesday, 10 June and included:
- Nick Lovett, Senior Transport Policy Planner at Christchurch City Council
- Karen Howard, Business Entrepreneur at Mediation First and Veritas Strategies
- Emmanuel Constantinou, President at Bondi & Districts Chamber of Commerce
- Stephen Coulter, Co-Founder at Zipidi
- Katie Stevens, Head of Global Policy at Lime
- Steven Wardill (moderator), State Affairs Editor at Courier Mail
The conversation started with Stephen Coulter from Zipidi explaining that ANZ won't return to normal quickly because many people will remain cautious of public transport for quite some time. He also warned of the danger of a backslide towards increased private car use as a result and pointed to usage spikes observed in China. Stephen is confident that micromobility is part of the answer to get cities moving again in a clean and safe way.
Stephen co-founded Zipidi to educate and encourage cities and communities to adopt personal mobility devices like e-scooters and e-bikes as a recognised and welcomed form of daily transport. In the webinar he encouraged all levels of government across ANZ to avoid ‘timid incrementalism’ when it comes to rethinking the way people move around cities in the post-COVID world. He expressed fears that the success of ANZ in managing the COVID crisis might mean that residents are more hesitant for change than other harder-hit cities, but that it shouldn't be a reason to be complacent about the need for improvements in mobility.
This sentiment was echoed by Senior Christchurch Transport Policy Planner, Nick Lovett who has seen concerns from residents about e-scooters lessening over time and remarked that concerns were only high when they were new. "As people became familiar with them, they became more comfortable with having them on the street." Nick went on to say, "The gains certainly outweigh the risks for cities and there's a lot of benefit to be had." Nick went on to discuss the symbiosis between scooters and the revitalisation of business, with residents taking them to local entertainment and shopping areas.
Nick then explained some of the micromobility trends being observed in Christchurch with traffic reducing throughout quarantine and ridership data for e-scooters. Nick shared that e-scooters are often used for social and recreational trips in Christchurch making them an advantage for cities looking to support local tourism and hospitality businesses
Karen Howard, a leading voice in Sydney and Newcastle’s tourism industry, outlined the severe economic ramifications of COVID already hitting Australia and the impending economic cliff that we are approaching when government relief measures are wound down. This underscores the need for disruption in technology and new businesses to spur economic growth. Karen highlighted how micromobility disruption can help, including: fewer cars on our roads resulting in reduced emissions and congestion, and more active forms of transport which will increase options for getting around while remaining healthy and socially distant. Karen closed by imagining a future with not just a new normal, but a better normal.
Emmanuel Constantinou followed up on Nick and Karen’s earlier points about how e-scooters help increase traffic to local businesses, especially those that might be off the beaten path. He went on to say that e-scooters help riders move quickly from business-to-business and facilitate more economic activity, especially with businesses that have largely been closed during COVID. This is especially important for Emmanuel and the Bondi and Districts Chamber of Commerce as they encourage vibrancy and partisanship in local businesses with the #keepitlocal campaign.
The final panelist was Katie Stevens, Lime’s Global Head of Policy who discussed the ridership trends being observed across active markets as the world emerges from the COVID crisis. In particular, South Korea has shown how micromobility helps cities meet transportation needs during and after COVID-19.
Katie then jetted across to Auckland where 58% of Lime riders said they used Lime at least once a week to access a local business and 84% did so at least once a month. This helped reduce car use and ownership with 82% of riders saying that Lime allowed them to use motor vehicles less often, and 46% of riders saying that Lime allowed them to own fewer motor vehicles. Katie closed by speaking to a recent survey of Auckland’s Lime riders asking how their transport behaviour will change in light of COVID.
The survey found that Auckland Lime riders expressed concerns about COVID-19 transmission on public transport (66%) and taxi/ridehailing services (47%), with up to 77% of riders feeling that walking, scooting and biking were safer options.
A good indication that conversation between panelists was robust was that there was minimal time for Q&A at the close of the webinar. However, moderator Steven Wardill asked each panelist his own questions before opening to all attendees to pick the brains of our expert panelists. Questions ranged from dockless e-scooter’s impact on streetscape and parking to the status of regulation across ANZ and what needs to be done to affect meaningful change.
As a closing statement, Mitchell Price, Lime’s Head of Government Relations for ANZ summarised the key takeaways from the discussion.
- Now is the time to seize the opportunities provided by COVID and rethink the way we move around cities.
- Governments should not shy away from this chance and operators like Lime should be their trusted partners in the regulation and implementation of micromobility.
- Scooters can help divert would-be transit riders from cars and encourage connections to local businesses in our economies.
Lime has led the global discussion around how micromobility can help cities recover from the ongoing COVID crisis. This was the last of three discussions, with previous events held in North America and Europe in recent weeks.
Get these stories delivered straight to your inbox