Why the Future of Cities is On Two Wheels (Not Four)

Plenty of great reasons why light electric vehicles represent the future of city living.

Are you thinking of making the shift from a gas-powered car to an electric vehicle as your preferred method of getting around town? There are plenty of great reasons why light electric vehicles represent the future of city living.

LEVs are More Efficient For Short Distances

The Federal Highway Administration reports that, “Car trips of under a mile add up to about 10 billion miles per year.” In fact, 60% of car trips are between zero and five miles. In other words, most of the time we leave our homes, we really aren’t going very far. Think about all the times you leave your house to get groceries, drop a family member off downtown, or go to the gym.

The reality is that driving is usually not a practical option for making short, frequent trips—especially since 90% of car trips are with single passengers. In contrast, electric bikes, scooters. and mopeds are designed for exactly that: to travel short distances in a flash.

Parking a Car in the City is Hard

Anyone who’s owned a car in the city knows that finding parking can feel like a nightmare; driving around and around, trying to scout out that lone spot nowhere near your front door, getting into fights with the other 50 people on the block doing the same thing. And even if you do find a spot, your car is left vulnerable to theft or damage.

Want to pay for a dedicated parking spot in a protected garage? Good luck. Apartment buildings keep years-long waiting lists for parking spots, and public garages can be an expense that few people can justify. Many of these problems can be resolved by choosing to ride a light electric vehicle.

With an LEV, parking is ample and almost always free, and a quality bike lock can assuage your fears of theft. Plus, many modern LEVs have theft prevention features that ensure nobody but you can go for a joyride.

LEVs Skip Traffic, Reduce Congestion

While electric cars may be better for the environment than gas-powered cars, electric cars do not help to decrease traffic congestion in busy areas. Lime’s case study in 2018 surveying San Diego found that drivers lost “56 hours and more than $780 dollars each sitting in traffic,” in a given year.

We’ve all wished for a cure for traffic jams. Now, it seems we have one. LEVs are essentially anti-traffic vehicles. In fact, if we replaced just 10% of the cars on the road with electric two-wheelers, we could reduce traffic by 40% overall.

Nobody likes to waste time in traffic; it’s boring, it’s unproductive, it’s anxiety-inducing. Light electric vehicles are more efficient and practical to ride—particularly in metropolitan areas—and they’re way more fun than sitting in traffic.

Bloomberg highlights Paris as an example of the transition away from cars toward greener micro-mobility. After building miles of bike lanes and converting large swaths of the city into car-free areas, Mayor Anne Hidalgo was able to reduce car traffic by 22 percent. If we use Paris as a model, other cities around the world can replicate this transition toward light electric vehicles and reap the benefits of decreased traffic.

More LEVs Means More Public Space

A study from the Royal Automobile Club found that the average car is parked 95% of the time. On a large scale, this means that many public spaces are closed and inaccessible for much of that time. It is worth noting that light electric vehicles take up very little space. Foldable models can be stored under desks or in homes.

Light electric vehicles as an alternative have the potential to increase efficiency of public and residential streets by 300%, as the road space they’d free up would be much easier to navigate, and would also create space for multi-purpose cycle lanes where more light electric vehicles could be ridden.

LEVs are Better for the Environment

Electric cars are a step up from gas-powered cars in that they do not rely on an expensive, non-renewable fuel source to operate. However, for those making a decision based on environmental impact, light electric vehicles are even better.

Bloomberg reports that “two- and three-wheeled EVs are responsible for more avoided oil consumption than any other category.” This is good news, because the most popular areas for LEVs—big cities—are also the areas that need the most help.

The United Nations reports that while cities take up only two percent of all land on Earth, they’re responsible for 70 percent of total global emissions.

Cost Effectiveness

According to Credit Karma, the average car costs almost $12,000 a year to own and manage. This figure doesn’t paint the whole picture, however. There’s also the additional costs of vehicle registration, property tax, and parking.

Even barring those extras, $1,000 a month is still a sobering amount to pay for conveniences that can be achieved just as easily with an electric scooter, moped, or bike—all of can be financed for 1/10th the monthly cost.

Remember that light electric vehicles are easier to maintain and involve less expenses than an electric car. Electric cars don’t need to be gassed up, but the trade-off is their high premium.

Meanwhile, the average electric bike, scooter, or moped is 80 to 90 percent cheaper to own and doesn’t require parking or maintenance fees, making it the more affordable choice by a long shot.

The Revolution has Already Started

Bloomberg reports that there are a quarter billion light electric vehicles in use today. While two million electric cars were sold in 2019, 25 million light electric vehicles were sold that same year—more than ten times the number of cars.

In Deloitte’s 2020 predictions, the company projected 130 million electric bicycles to be sold globally between 2020 and 2023, and states that “the number of e-bikes on the roads will easily outpace other e-vehicles by the end of next year.”

This is due in part to the fact bike commuting across the world is estimated to see a one percent uptick by 2022. The International Energy Agency estimates only 12 million electric cars and trucks are expected to be sold in 2025, versus 40 million electric bicycles— a significant contrast that shows the value of light electric vehicles as a sustainable mobility option that’s here to stay.

The Future of Mobility

Electric bikes, e-scooters, and e-mopeds may be small, but it’s precisely their size that makes them so efficient and reliable for consistent riders. While electric cars are a good start toward a greener future, it is ultimately two-wheeled electric vehicles that will offer a more versatile and sustainable future for mobility; these are the vehicles we should be investing in to ensure the greatest efficiency and environmental benefit.

Ready to own a light electric vehicle? We’re ready to help you find the right ride at Ridepanda—the only one-stop, curated shop for high-quality e-bikes, e-mopeds, and e-scooters.