Urban Sharing CEO Marius Olsen shares his thoughts on our first 10 million trips, as well as what the next 100 million might look like
In September the fleets we power reached 10 million trips in just three years. Every trip is a data point we learn from. Every trip informs us on how we can develop our product better.
Through our research, we’ve learned how a shorter borrow period can have a significant impact on the number of trips per vehicle per day, with little impact to a commuter. We’ve looked into the impact of hidden biases within a public infrastructure that can be inherited by newer micromobilty systems, including Oslo City Bike.
We’ve learned a lot just powering schemes as well. We’ve found that a hybrid solution can be ideal for combining the stability of a docked system with the flexibility of a freeflow system. We’ve seen quite often that, while the first and last mile is important, perhaps the first and last 100 meters are not.
And then we have our pilots. Just in the past year we’ve tested out our system on cargo and winter bikes, as well as with scooters. One of the first e-bike schemes powered by Urban Sharing is set to launch in Stockholm. We now know that our platform can work with multiple vehicles, and it is in this space that I get really excited, not just for the next 10 million trips, but the next 100 million.
Where I think micromobility is going
But first, what do we think the world will look like in 100 million trips? If we reach that amount in three years like I think we will, then we can say a few things with a good amount of certainty.
We can say that the world will look more regulated. Many cities are already taking that step. Many more will soon. Even in Oslo where free-floating schemes have been accepted more than in other cities, we’re seeing restricted areas expand more and more. It’s only a matter of time where the calculus flips, and cities begin to conceptualize areas where you can park. It’s not a long jump from there before station-based micromobility — both physical and virtual — becomes the standard.
We can say that more micromobility vehicles will appear, each having their own peak in excitement, before leveling off. We’re seeing this with scooters now, and we’ll see this with mopeds soon. Each time, after an initial rush in popularity, each new vehicle has found itself integrated into public infrastructure as a whole.
At first this will seem like the vehicles are cannibalizing each other. In a way they are and will be, because really, we’re just figuring this all out. But then we come to what I think will be the biggest change, and where I think Urban Sharing will play a significant role: multi-vehicle fleets.
Over the next three years — and we’re beginning to see this already — we’ll see systems move from from pure mechanical bike sharing to e-bikes to mopeds; and then to new means of micromobility that we haven’t even seen yet.
Already mechanical bikes are able to replace 50–60 percent of car trips. But then, sometimes you’ll need to pick up your kids from kindergarten or take home more groceries than can fit in a bike basket. Why not use a cargo bike?
Or what if you need to go up hill at the end of the work day, as we see so often in Oslo? An e-bike would be ideal to address that. Mopeds could fill that function as well, but they are also ideal for going long distances.
And then a bigger picture will start to emerge. While a single micromobility vehicle is able to say, replace shorter trips by cars, a combined fleet can address virtually every other function a car performs in a city. I truly believe to make a city car-free, a mixed-fleet is the answer. And it’s here where Urban Sharing will be well-positioned to help our micromobility partners to succeed.
Because it’s not just about having a system that can work with scooters and bicycles within the same app. We can do that already. What’s also important is how one distributes those vehicles.
Would each vehicle require its own rebalancing scheme? Or could they be incorporated into a more complex rebalancing operation? Do we prioritize types of vehicle to terrain or time of day?
Would there be a blending of functionalities between vehicles, and should our customers adapt their operations to accommodate? How do we help our partners ensure that they can deliver the right trip, on the right vehicle, for the right commuter, in a multi-vehicle fleet?
These are the questions we’re looking into right now, and I’m really excited to discover what answers and additional challenges we’ll encounter on the way.
Continuing Urban Sharing’s ambitious vision
Every trip is a data point, and all data is training data. This gives us direction for our product. Over time this will enable us to optimize our machine learning based models, which power our tools. Through collaboration with cities and our operating partners, we will become better every day, bringing us ever closer to 100 million trips.
While we continue to learn, and continue to build, I think it’s really important that we continue to work well with each city we expand into, because they’re all unique. And they all help us become better.
We need to understand what’s important for a city, its population, and how we can collaborate in the best possible way to offer good services to the user. This will hold just as true for the next 100 million trips as it has for the last 10 million.