Even when she was young, Florence Milner, was always walking or cycling. So joining the micro-mobility group, Lime, after studying for an MBA, made a lot of sense. She worked across EMEA before ending up as the General Manager for UK and Ireland, after just over a year at the company. On this week’s Mobility Moments, we talk to Milner about Lime’s new safe and sustainable mobility initiatives in the UK and how we can avoid a ‘car-based recovery’ from lockdown.
How fast is Lime growing in the UK and Ireland?
Lime has run a shared e-bike service in London and Milton Keynes since 2018. During this time, we’ve served more than 400,000 people. We’ve been successful here in the UK because we understand how to work with local authorities. These strong relationships have meant we’ve been able to introduce our e-scooter trials in Milton Keynes and Salford, and these are already proving incredibly successful.
In the first four weeks of the trial at Milton Keynes, residents and visitors took over 20,500 e-scooter trips, saving an estimated 5,134 car journeys and 3.18 tons of carbon. We can only see this figure growing, particularly as we head back into a lockdown when socially distanced forms of transport will be vital.
How are you integrating JUMP/Uber’s service?
We relaunched JUMP’s electric bike-share service in London over the Summer, and these are now available to rent through the Lime app. It’s great to continue developing our product offering to our customers and we’ve seen the number of journeys continue to rise based on last year, showing the importance of micro-mobility options in the capital.
Explain the two new schemes in London?
We’ve just invested £1 million into the launch of two key schemes – Lime Aid and Lime Access. Lime Aid provides frontline workers, such as NHS and emergency service staff, with unlimited free 30 minute e-bike rides to help them commute to work in a safe, sustainable and socially distanced way.
Our Access initiative is designed to remove the barriers to mobility for lower income users in London by providing discounted rides of at least 50%. The scheme means that a Lime Access user would be charged as little as £1.20 for a ten minute journey, helping them take advantage of the service.
How has the pandemic changed the perception of sustainable transport?
At the height of the first lockdown, we saw pollution levels across Europe drop by 50% because of the sudden lack of cars on the road. For those living in cities like London, which saw traffic levels fall by nearly 80%, this experience has shown residents how much better the air quality and quality of life can be if we were to reduce the number of cars on the road.
At the same time, we saw a huge spike in demand for our e-bikes, with users taking longer journeys and the bikes being used more frequently, clearly showing people are rethinking how they get around. London councils also did a great job of introducing new cycle lanes to help people get around at this time, which will be vital in ensuring we do not see a car-based recovery in the city.
This is backed up by a Politico poll of 21 cities across Europe which found a clear majority in favour of measures geared at preventing a return to pre-pandemic levels of air pollution; and there is strong support for new zero-emissions zones, banning cars from urban areas and maintaining road space gains for bike lanes and pedestrian paths implemented during the health crisis.
How can the UK government get more of us to leave our cars at home?
Shared e-scooters have become a vital part of daily life in cities around the world. In the UK, we have been slower to make the most of this sustainable and convenient transport mode, but following legislation earlier this year, we now have an opportunity to catch up with our international counterparts and make huge strides in reducing the number of cars on the road.
A study by INRIX found that in each of London, Birmingham and Manchester, more than 65% of car journeys are under 3 miles in length. These are all replaceable by bike and scooter journeys and should be where the government focuses its attention.
What safety initiatives are Lime involved with in the UK?
What we’ve learned operating in more than 100 cities across more than 30 countries is that riders and non-riders alike are safest when there is already quality road infrastructure in place, such as bike lanes. That’s why we see cities around the world increasing their investment in slower and safer street infrastructure.
To support our e-scooter trials, we have launched a series of ‘First Ride Academies’ and in app training to ensure new riders are able to ride safely and confidently. This starts with understanding how Lime works and everything from starting to ending a ride and how to responsibly park. We also encourage all our riders to sign our ‘Respect the Ride Pledge’ where they agree to ride responsibly, ride only where legally permitted, avoid parking in the way of pedestrians, park properly and to wear a helmet and reflective clothing when riding.
What will urban mobility look like in 2030?
By 2030, I would love to see urban mobility be shared, electric and most importantly carbon-free. We have already taken steps towards this, partnering with the WWF to create more liveable, pollution-free cities. Electric shared micro mobility can be among the most sustainable modes in the world, with the potential to replace all car trips under 5 miles.
As many cities look to rebuild their infrastructures in the wake of the pandemic, now is the time to place a sustainable transport ecosystem at the centre.