Cars, bikes, mopeds, e-scooters, even (almost) skateboards - the sharing mobility space is as diverse as our needs to get from A to B are. And that is the issue. Human mobility goes beyond bringing yourself from one place to another.
When we think of mobility, we often think of a particular place that we want to get to. Over the past few years, the range of corresponding options I can choose from in Berlin has grown and grown. Apart from public transport and traditional taxis, there are several ride-hailing services and a sheer abundance of sharing vehicles. All of them bring me where I want to go at various levels of comfort, speed, and cost.
But often it isn’t just me who needs to get from A to B (and maybe even back to A). It is me plus my dog, plus my shopping, plus my kids (at some point in the future). Out of the existing options, none really seem to be made for such use cases. Public transport may enable me to bring my dog, but carrying large shopping bags home from the station isn’t the most pleasant thought. My shopping fits into most car-sharing vehicles. But their policies typically prevent you from bringing pets or require you to transport them in a box - also not the most practical approach. And e-scooters, well.
Ultimately, all new mobility providers are aspiring to end the era of privately used cars in cities. Only being driven around in them or sharing them with other people probably is the most obvious solution. Replacing the most common use case - a single person driving from A to B for just a few kilometers - that makes sense. But the true strength of cars is that they can sort of cover all sorts of use cases. And yet, they aren’t the ideal solution for pretty much any single. You’ll be much better off biking through town, not being stuck in traffic and having to look for parking. You’ll be much more relaxed going to the next city by train that takes you right to the center. And for long distances, planes just get you there a lot quicker. Cars, however, can do every single one of those jobs. Maybe not perfectly, but they cover it.
So to make our mobility future-proof, do we just need more sustainable cars? No. We need to understand the different use cases that they cover and provide options that each beat the car in one or several of these use cases. Not one new mobility option needs to outperform cars. New mobility as a whole - combined - needs to outperform cars. And this is where cargo bikes bring us to the next level.
Cargo bikes allow us to transport goods, pets, our children, even other adults. And yet, for most people, it doesn’t make sense to own one. They cost quite a bit of money and many of us only need them a few times a week. A lack of storage space in urban houses and the risk of theft come on top of that. Basically, an ideal setting for sharing.
Shared, electric cargo bikes are the next level of new mobility and will help us take another giant leap towards cities that no longer require privately owned cars. Not because they replace cars, but because they finally go beyond A to B.