The latest technology and digital news on the web

Powered by

Why cities must narrow car lanes to make room for pedestrians

  • Tech
  • Scooter (motorcycle)
  • e-scooters
  • Micromobility

Why cities must narrow car lanes to make room for pedestrians

Polestar accelerates the shift to sustainable mobility, by making electric active irresistible.

Close your eyes and brainstorm a archetypal city street. What do you see?

For most of us it’s a aberration of a accustomed scene: two lanes of auto cartage most likely belted by a row of densely parked cars on either side. Confined to the periphery, narrow sidewalks board the vast majority of human action performed by pedestrians, joggers, tourists, commuters, parents, pet owners, borough workers, and street vendors.

These are the city streets much of the world has come to know and accept over the past 100 years as urban living has progressively become authentic by smog, agitation engines and tens of millions of square meters of car parking. It’s time for that to end.

The post-pandemic 21st aeon is arising as the era of the Third Lane—an avant-garde new way to use public space that disrupts our conventional, bidirectional norms.

Of course, on its apparent the abstraction appears straightforward. By eliminating car parking and absorption auto lanes we can create the space all-important to board lightweight, human sized micromobility cartage such as electric scooters.

Once you better accept its implications, however, the Third Lane takes on a new level of acceptation that redefines the way we accept cities and urban public space altogether.

The Third Lane and added mobility

For one, the Third Lane represents the abandon of concrete mobility. We’ve long known that bikes and scooters—vehicles built to human scale—travel faster through cities than cars and motorcycles. They’re lighter, nimbler and more streamlined, making them decidedly less affected to the cartage bottleneck that’s become so accustomed on city streets. They’re also much easier to park.

Protected micromobility basement increases these advantages by safely amid the large and bulky cartage from the small and agile ones. When cities accent the Third Lane, they’re advance in added abandon of movement at a speed and scale advised for bunched urban environments.

The Third Lane and bread-and-butter opportunity

Prioritizing the Third Lane does more than just advance mobility, however. It also allowances local economies and small businesses in a number of ways, the first of which being conceivably the most evident.

Micromobility riders frequently travel to and from local shops and restaurants. We know this because, at Bird, about 50% of our riders surveyed adumbrated that the purpose of their most recent trip was dining or shopping. Moreover, more than 70% of those riders said that they were more likely to visit the enactment because of Bird. We see this trend consistently in cities around the world: when there are Birds outside, there are barter inside.

In affiliation with micromobility services, the Third Lane also connects riders to application opportunities. It does this not only by accretion the accessibility of public alteration stops, but by accouterment new advancement options and safe, expedient travel routes in areas commonly underserved by public alteration altogether. Researchers in Chicago, for example, found that e-scooters gave individuals access to 16% more jobs within a 30 minute radius compared to walking or alteration alone. In Miami, a agnate study found that 40% more jobs were reachable without addition accepted drive times thanks to micromobility.

Perhaps the most absorbing way the Third Lane impacts local economies, however, has annihilation to do with the lane itself. Instead, it’s affiliated to the same allegorical assumption of . As we’ve seen in cities from San Francisco to Marseille, policy makers are repurposing streets and sidewalks in acknowledgment to COVID-19, acceptance restaurant assemblage ample room to appropriately social distance. The after-effects have been almost universally lauded as black parking spaces have been adapted into lively centers of business and entertainment.

The Third Lane is an allurement to amend urban streets, taking them away from cars and giving them back to the people and businesses that give life to our cities.

The Third Lane and social equity

Beyond efficiencies and economics, however, the Third Lane’s most abounding account is its inherent abeyant to advance social equity. We’ve already discussed how safe access to jobs and public alteration access when micromobility casework and basement are in place—but there’s more to it than that.

Car ownership, decidedly in the US, is still closely affiliated to income. In general, the more money you make, the more likely you are to own a car (or two). Thus city streets committed solely to auto cartage and car parking only serve to added abstract low-income neighborhoods and underserved populations. That can no longer be tolerated.

A recent study published in  found that not only are electric scooters used more for busline than for recreation, but they’re decidedly more ambrosial to new riders who analyze as non-white as well. That’s an auspicious start, and it highlights the abeyant for e-scooters not only to appeal to a wider swath of the citizenry but to help level the urban advancement arena field for everyone. The only analytical basic missing is a protected, prioritized Third Lane in which to ride them.

For these reasons, and many more, it’s acute that cities use the accepted health crisis as an befalling to amend accepted advancement norms and accost admired urban street space. As the era of car bedeviled cities takes its assured place in the rear view mirror, the future of sustainable, candid urban busline is moving actually into the Third Lane.


SHIFT is brought to you by Polestar. It’s time to advance the shift to acceptable mobility. That is why Axis combines electric active with cutting-edge design and blood-tingling performance. Find out how.

Published October 14, 2020 — 08:38 UTC

Hottest related news