News from OkaiIFA2020 was a blast. We want to thank our partners, customers, and all the media who came by our booth to check out our latest innovations. Some updates from the event:
- The EB100 Electric Sharing Bike was publicly launched and shown to potential clients and media.
- We introduced the brand-new Okai Charging Cabinet to our business partners.
Lastly, as a reminder, it’s not too late to preorder the ES500 scooter at a discount. Okay, onto the news!
- Two new studies confirm micromobility’s ascendence on the eve of the pandemic. The first, from NACTO, finds that the number of shared micromobility trips taken in the US soared to 136 million in 2019, up 60% from the year before. The second, from NABSA, shows that North American riders logged 157 million trips across 194,000 shared scooters and bikes last year. Now the question on everyone’s mind is, how long will it take the industry to return to its pre-COVID peak?
- Tier plans to build a battery-swap network across Europe for its latest scooter. By incentivizing users to bring their batteries to charging stations after trips, Tier stands to vastly reduce the amount of money it spends on paying professionals to do it.
- Micromobility steals riders from trains and buses, right? Not so fast. A new study of Beijing’s transport system finds that dockless bike-sharing actually boosts transit ridership by 8%, while reducing car traffic by 4%.
- The e-bike revolution continues. In June, US sales were up 190% compared to last year, according to new numbers.
- California came close to banning scooter and bike rentals after its legislature advanced a bill that would have prohibited micromobility operators from using liability waivers, the everyday legal documents that people sign to do things like rent a car or join a gym. If enacted, the bill would have made operators basically uninsurable. However, following outcry from both lobbyists and activists, the language regarding waivers was removed from the legislation.
- Two-wheeled mobility is gaining major political clout. In the last few weeks, US Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden cut an ad calling for increased micromobility spending, while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European People’s Party president Donald Tusk were separately photographed riding e-scooters.
- MiMoto is offering free electric moped rides in Milan courtesy of an... unconventional sponsor, Pornhub.
What We’re Reading
🍔 A golden age for Golden Arches
While mom-and-pop eateries struggle with COVID-related restrictions on indoor dining, restaurants with drive-thrus are absolutely thriving. According to one recent poll, 74% of Americans have visited a drive-thru the same amount or more often than usual this year. That uptick has led many fast-casual restaurants that once scorned drive-thrus, such as Shake Shack and Chipotle, to give their locations more car-friendly makeovers.
🤖 Don’t let algorithms design your streets
For 70 years, American transportation planners have been using the same basic travel demand model to decide what our cities should look like. Worryingly, a new Vice article suggests that this model is biased toward building highways and is frequently wrong at predicting what infrastructure commuters actually need. “Critics say [travel demand models] are emblematic of an antiquated planning process that optimizes for traffic flow and promotes highway construction. It’s well past time, they argue, to think differently about what we’re building for. ‘This is the fundamental problem with transportation modeling and the way it’s used,’ said Beth Osborne, director of the non-profit Transportation for America. ‘We think the model is giving us the answer. That’s irresponsible. Nothing gives us the answer. We give us the answer.’”
💂 Scooters OK’d in the UK
Few countries went from fighting electric scooters to welcoming them faster than the United Kingdom. After stubbornly resisting legalization for years, in March, British authorities finally agreed to permit dockless scooter rentals by 2021. Then, in the face of an explosive coronavirus outbreak this spring, the government chose to expedite city trials in hopes that scooters would allow people to get around without taking crowded buses or trains. The first vehicles started appearing in England, Wales, and Scotland in July, and in the coming weeks, thousands more are expected to arrive. At the Financial Times, Tim Bradshaw writes about the situation on the ground as one of last great untapped micromobility markets opens up.
🛣️ Driverless shuttles hit a speed bump
Having given up on making self-driving cars, at least in the short term, many AV evangelists have set their sights on public transit instead. But there’s a problem. Even short-distance, fixed-route trips are often too complicated for autonomous technology to execute safely and reliably. Wired reports that a driverless shuttle pilot in Columbus, Ohio, ended in technical disappointment last year: “Left-hand turns in traffic were a nonstarter, for instance, and a safety driver would always need to be stationed behind the wheel.” On top of the technological hurdles facing the industry, there’s also the issue of public sentiment. Generally speaking, transit passengers fear AVs and labor unions hate them.
🚶The secret is sidewalks
Wide sidewalks may be the key to economic recovery in coronavirus-ravaged cities. After Toronto transformed part of its downtown into an outdoor mall—with stores, bars, restaurants, and cafés allowed to extend their operations onto the streets, where the virus is less likely to be transmitted than it is indoors—commerce boomed. Best of all, thanks to the city’s extra-wide sidewalks, these private establishments didn’t have to block pedestrians in order to serve customers in the public right of way. Now, with winter approaching in the Northern Hemisphere, many metros are looking at procuring new technologies to shelter and heat their sidewalks to keep outdoor businesses alive in the cold.
Words of the MonthGerman: Fingerspitzengefühl
Literally “fingertip feeling,” meaning intuitive flair or instinct
Chinese: guān 關係 (guān xi)
Roughly meaning “relationship” or “connection.” In a business or professional context, developing your guān xi can be translated as “networking.”