NABSA Members Are Actively Working to Reduce the Industry’s Climate Impacts

Since its inception, shared micromobility has provided people the option of a climate-friendly way of getting around. Having these options is even more important now as we face a global climate crisis. According to our 2020 Shared Micromobility State of the Industry Report for North America, 36% of shared micromobility trips replaced a car trip, which contributed to an offset of approximately 29 million pounds of CO₂ emissions that year.

Mode shift like this aligns with and supports the climate goals set by countries in North America. For example, the US aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 50- 52% below 2005 levels by 2030, Mexico is working towards a 22% reduction by 2030, while Canada recently released their plan to reach 40-45% emissions reductions below 2005 levels by 2030. Additionally, a recent study showed that city residents worldwide need to choose modes like walking, biking, and transit for at least 40% of the miles they travel by 2030 in order to prevent global heating from exceeding the 1.5°C threshold and the worst effects of climate change.

As part of the transportation industry – the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions – shared micromobility is part of that solution. In addition to providing communities with an alternative mobility option to gas-powered vehicles, shared micromobility operators have long been focused on developing operational methods, like using e-cargo bikes instead of vans for rebalancing when possible, to lower emissions that come from daily operational tasks. In addition, operators are developing strategic partnerships that will support the innovative changes being made in the industry. Below, you’ll find examples of how our members are taking steps to lessen the industry’s climate impacts and inspiring shared micromobility users to choose sustainable transportation options:

BCycle is Keeping Batteries Out of Landfills

This spring, BCycle will become the first shared micromobility operator to participate in the bike industry’s battery recycling program facilitated by Call2Recycle. With this program, when a battery reaches the end of its life, the operator or retailer places the battery in a recycling kit that is safely transported to where it can be properly disposed of by Call2Recycle. The materials recovered from the recycled batteries will be used in the manufacturing of new products and will keep electric bicycle batteries out of landfills to the benefit of operators and the communities they serve.

Morgan Ramaker, BCycle Executive Director stated that “The battery recycling program with Call2Recycle incorporates a sustainable bookend to our bikeshare ecosystems by giving our e-bike batteries a new life after BCycle. With more electric bikes being ridden than ever before, now’s an important time to establish a battery recycling solution that we, bikeshare operators, and our transit and municipal partners can be proud of.”

Additionally, BCycle is facilitating the donation of bikes from Boulder BCycle to World Vision, humanitarian aid, development, and advocacy organization. The bikes being donated served Boulder BCycle for 5-10 years and on average the miles traveled on the bikes is equivalent to crossing the US twice!

Bird is Using Collaboration and Partnerships to Grow Their Climate Initiatives

In 2021, Bird riders saved an estimated 1,125,000 gallons of gasoline, equating to 10,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide prevented from entering the atmosphere. Bird’s research and development program was designed to ensure the highest level of sustainability possible. They developed a proprietary Battery Management System that’s optimized for sustainability and safety. Additionally, Bird offers free integration with local public bikeshare services around the world including Norway, California, Michigan, Texas, and more. The integration prompts riders to choose a sustainable mode of transportation even when a Bird scooter is unavailable. Here’s what one integration partner, MoGo Detroit, had to say about the initiative:

“Bird wants to be seen as a multimodal provider. Like us at MoGo Detroit, they think we’re all in the same boat and want to create a paradigm shift for folks. Whether it’s by bike or scooter, these are still people that aren’t using cars,” said MoGo’s Executive Director Adriel Thornton.

To further lower the environmental impact of their operations, Bird became the first shared micromobility signatory of the United Nations Global Compact, a worldwide initiative encouraging companies to “align strategies and operations with universal principles on human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption.” In addition, Bird established a number of partnerships with industry-leading recycling organizations like Urban Mining Co., a San Marcos, Texas-based company that’s transforming the world’s supply of rare earth magnets in order to secure a high-tech, sustainable future, and IT Asset Partners, a Los Angeles-based tech company dealing with reverse logistics and EV-battery second life.

WE-cycle is Harnessing Solar Energy to Recharge its E-bikes

During the summer of 2021, WE-cycle, in partnership with Skyhook Solar and PBSC Urban Solutions, piloted the first operational solar-powered e-bikeshare stations in the US. Together, the partners adapted a PBSC e-station to be powered by a Skyhook Solar Station to create a grid-independent, solar-powered e-bikeshare station. This innovation allowed WE-cycle to power its e-bikes with 100% renewable energy and act upon its mission of carbon-neutral transportation by keeping e-bike operations sustainable and its bikeshare stations 100% solar-powered.

Additionally, the e-stations allowed WE-cycle to incorporate additional e-bikes into it’s fleet. Though e-bikes represent only 10% of the WE-cycle bicycle fleet, they accounted for 32% of all rides in 2021. Their riders rode e-bikes three times more than the pedal bikes and, according to their annual WE-cycle Rider Survey, 72% of WE-cycle users said that they would choose an e-bike over a pedal bike every time it was available. The solar-powered e-stations are an environmentally-friendly technological advancement that allowed WE-cycle to keep the highly sought-after e-bikes in the field and consistently available for use.

During the five-month e-station trial, WE-cycle saw 1,888 unique riders take 16,637 total e-bike rides. Collectively, riders traveled approximately 18,290 miles by e-bike. Riders who docked e-bikes at solar-powered e-stations naturally contributed to overall system upkeep. Those bikes could fully recharge in about 4 hours and be available for use without WE-cycle staff involvement. These patterns of rider movement represent reduced staff electric vehicle miles traveled because technicians were able to avoid a significant number of rebalancing trips.

“Thank you for an innovative and invaluable program, the many new stations and the number of bikes that are increasing regularly, and the addition of some e-bikes!” – 2021 WE-cycle rider

WE-cycle riders saved an estimated 13,667 pounds of CO2 during the pilot period and the CO2 mitigated from using solar to power the e-station instead of grid energy reduced GHG emissions by an additional 495 pounds. Together, these two factors offset emissions, roughly equivalent to over 16,000 miles driven by the average passenger vehicle or the carbon sequestered by 8 acres of US forests in a year.

Due to this pilot’s highly-visible benefits and public support, in 2022, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA), City of Aspen, and Town of Basalt are investing in more solar-powered e-stations and e-bikes. The 2022 WE-cycle system will have a total of 52 e-bikes and seven solar-powered e-stations. This expansion has the potential to more than double the carbon emissions savings they experienced in 2021 and continue to encourage sustainable transportation and local collaboration.

Populus Uses Data to Help Cities Visualize Shared Micromobility’s Positive Climate Impacts

Populus received an EU grant from AI4Cities to leverage AI and data to advance sustainability in cities. As a result, Populus and their partners at Nommon will deliver advanced software and data analysis solutions — leveraging shared micromobility data — to help cities estimate the climate impacts of new shared mobility options, policies, and strategies more easily. They’re prototyping new methods of visualizing and analyzing shared micromobility data to deliver decision-support tools for monitoring and assessing the climate impacts of different shared mobility regulatory frameworks and policy strategies.

Phase 1 of the grant included an initial analysis and scope for a Phase 2 advancement of digital technology based on feedback from the AI4Cities consortium. Phase 2 will deliver a set of digital tools to align shared micromobility expansion with GHG emission reduction targets.

This is only a small sample of the climate-related programs and policies in the shared micromobility industry. NABSA designs our annual conference to produce as little single-use, non-recyclable waste as possible. Many systems, such as Blue Bikes NOLA, Spin, and Biketown, have incorporated e-cargo bikes for rebalancing, while others promote sustainability among their workforce by providing incentives for those that use non-car modes to get to and from work.

NABSA applauds the hard work being done across the industry to reduce our carbon footprint and serve as an example of what’s possible within the transportation sector. In an upcoming campaign and webinar, we’ll further highlight what members are doing and dive deeper into shared micromobility’s role in reducing carbon emissions.

More information about how shared micromobility is benefiting the environment can be found in our Shared Micromobility State of the Industry Report for North America.