A new study by the Institute for Transport Planning and Systems (IVT) at ETH Zurich shows how electric bikes and scooters might not be as good for the climate as we thought.
Researchers considered more than the carbon dioxide emissions resulting from the production, operation, and maintenance of these devices throughout their lifecycle, but also how the pattern of use substitutes other modes of transport.
"Operating e-scooters and e-bikes seems climate-friendly at first glance because they do not use internal combustion engines. But in terms of their carbon footprint, the means of transport they typically replace is ultimately what matters," says Daniel Reck from ETH Zurich.
The findings from the study show that in Zurich, fleets of e-bikes and e-scooters replace more environmentally friendly modes of transport like walking, public transportation, and cycling instead of the more polluting private vehicles. This dynamic means that their use currently does more harm to the climate than good.
However, privately-owned e-bikes and e-scooters were found to replace car trips much more frequently and positively impact net carbon dioxide emissions. The researchers suggest one way to improve the viability of shared micro-mobility devices would be to integrate them more effectively with public transport and support commuting with private micro-mobility.
You can read more from the study here.
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