‘Walk, cycle or use public transport’. That is the mantra that politicians nowadays recite when it comes to urban mobility.
When we all walk, cycle or use public transport, all problems will vanish into thin air. It’s a kind of detergent to clean the streets in our cities, the air and whatever more you can think of. It’s not that we have anything against walking, cycling or using public transport, we even do it ourselves when it’s convenient. But to think that all urban mobility challenges are solved with this is not very realistic.
First: walking and cycling are good for short distances. The average citizen will not walk or cycle for more than half an hour. This means about two kilometres walking or seven kilometres cycling in an urban environment, with not too many traffic lights or busy crossings. Does this seem little to you? Try it yourself, you will be surprised.
Public transport is good as well, for both shorter and longer distances, provided that lines and stops are there where you need them. As long as you go from a location in a city to another location in a city this is most likely the case. You can only hope for not too many transfers and waiting times between them.
It all becomes very different when your destination or your starting point is not in the city. Then you suddenly have to deal with longer distances, lacking bus, tram, underground or train lines and stops. You will be confronted with almost impossible multi-modal ‘solutions’, lines of public transport that take long detours, with many transfers and long waiting times in between them.
That’s when you feel a need for a customized solution, like a car or a powered two-wheeler. Cars are very inconvenient in the city. As we all know: there are too many of them, they take up too much space on the road and to park and all those idling engines are very bad for the air quality.
Motorcycles are not part of the problem, they are part of the solution and should be treated that way!
That leaves the powered two-wheeler. For short distances moped scooters, e-bikes or (small) motorcycles and scooters are very convenient, for longer distances the motorcycle or motor scooter are the best solution. We proved that in 2014, in 2017 and in 2019 with our mobility tests. Almost every time our testers took a typical commuters’ route with a car, a motorcycle, a moped, a bicycle or with public transport, the motorcycle was the fastest way to get into the city. Public transport was no competition at all. For commuting, an electric scooter or motorcycle will use less energy than public transport and in the end pollute less too.
This is why we oppose this ‘walking, cycling, public transport’’-mantra. It’s just not true that the solution is only offered by these three ways of mobility. Motorcycles are not part of the problem, they are part of the solution and should be treated that way!
Written by Dolf Willigers.
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Top photograph courtesy of BMW