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SUSTAINABILITY| 23.09.2021

Seven keys for improving sustainable mobility in Brazil

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A study prepared by Fundación MAPFRE, in collaboration with the Brazilian Center for Analysis and Planning (Cebrap), analyzes the increase in electric scooter and bicycle use in the country and reveals the need for adopting changes in legislation, business models, and user habits. The objective? A more sustainable and safe new mobility, one of the pillars of the Foundation’s work worldwide.

In light of the unstoppable increase in Brazil’s urban population, mobility has become a central topic in the development of its public policies and new transport models are emerging. The use of electric scooters and bicycles has expanded, whether through personal purchases or sharing the services offered by companies in the sector.

To understand the context in which these vehicles are becoming more commonplace in Brazilian society and their impact on road safety, Fundación MAPFRE has drawn up, in collaboration with Cebrap, Road safety and electric vehicles for personal mobility in Brazil: context, perceptions and perspectives.

 The analysis covered other aspects, such as legislation, how much these vehicles are used compared to other methods of transport, academic studies, potential consumers or electric PMVs in Brazil and interchange systems.

“The aim of the study is to look at the changes that can make urban mobility safer, more sustainable and inclusive,” explains Fátima Lima, Sustainability Director and representative of Fundación MAPFRE in Brazil.

This dilemma, in relation to the benefits of using electric scooters and bicycles for the purposes of personal mobility and, on the other hand, the lack of regulations emphasized by experts, was addressed by Lima in a front-page article published in Valor Económico, in which she provided a detailed explanation of the project. 

 

 

Protection of delivery workers

According to the study, the Covid pandemic has increased the use of electric bicycles among delivery workers.  “They have the potential to be a compelling solution: on the one hand, they help to make working conditions less tiresome for workers who travel around the city on a daily basis and, on the other, they increase their income as they can make more deliveries.”

Generally speaking, she reflects on the need to reduce road speeds, offer education on prevention to drivers of larger vehicles, adopt legislative changes, and the production of bicycles and scooters. “We believe that interchange systems, which are great when it comes to democratizing use, need to revise their business models so that the fees charged don’t encourage users to travel faster,” she adds.

 

Conclusions of the study

  1. The circulation of electric PMVs is regulated by the same standards established for similar methods of transport that run on leg power.
  2. The interest in electric transport online is a relatively new phenomenon: electric bicycle search engines first gained notoriety in 2017, and electric scooter search engines in 2018.
  3. There is a consensus that improving road safety involves alleviating traffic, reducing speeds, and building infrastructure adapted to micro-mobility.
  4. Accidents that affect electric cyclists are very similar to those experienced by traditional cyclists. Users of electric scooters are most affected by loss of balance or flaws in road surfaces (gaps, grates, etc.).
  5. To be considered a viable method of transport in Brazil, electric scooters need to adapt to the specific urban features of cities across the country. Adjustments need to be made to brakes, suspension, wheels and tires to respond to the country’s climate, road, and traffic characteristics.
  6. Despite consumption of this method of transport being on the up, the profile of electric PMV users in Brazil remains very elitist, and for the time being, it remains a product that is most commonly used by those with more resources.
  7. Interchange systems are excellent tools for democratizing electric PMVs. Revising their commercial model is essential. By charging for the amount of time used, this encourages users to speed, generating risks and accidents. Ideally, fees should be based on the distance traveled (from start to end point).