It’s Time to Design Micromobility for Women

If it was just the occasional inconvenience, it might be easier to brush off. Like when you’re on a train and can’t quite reach the hand strap over your head. Or when your bus can’t easily accommodate a stroller. But for women, these instances tend to pile up, making it clear that our transportation systems were designed by and tailored for men. 

Sometimes it’s just a matter of convenience. Other times, it costs us: women pay up to $1,200 more than men on transportation every year due to factors like childcare responsibilities and safety concerns. And in the worst cases, it can mean life or death: women are 73 percent more likely to be injured and 17 percent more likely die in a car crash because crash testing seldom takes women’s body types into account.

We need the voices of women at all levels of our industry to ensure our transportation systems feel safe and accessible for everyone. And we have our work cut out for us: Women comprise only 15 percent of the transportation workforce and even less at the C-suite level. 

As the only female founder in micromobility, I am dedicated to bridging the gender gap in the bike lane. Bicycling has long been a male-dominated activity, with fewer than a third of U.S. bike commuters identifying as women. The gender gap is just as pervasive in micromobility, where young men are the predominant users of shared electric scooters and bikes

Some of the solutions to address this discrepancy are known: Study after study has concluded that cities need to install protected bike lanes to get more women riding. But we shouldn’t stop there – it’s time for my industry to take a look at vehicle design.

Why aren’t more women using micromobility? Perhaps because the most common vehicle type in our industry – the standing scooter – was designed for men, like so many other aspects of our transportation systems. When I first tried a standing scooter, trying to keep balanced while moving 15 miles per hour next to a row of fast-moving cars, I was a little freaked out. I asked myself how could this experience be more comfortable – or even welcoming – to riders like me?

I founded a micromobility company with a bike design engineer to advance the industry with a focus on accessible design. Four years ago, we deployed the industry’s first seated e-scooter – a vehicle with large tires, a lower center of gravity, and a throttle so riders can sit down for their journey – no pedaling required. After analyzing data from millions of rides and feedback from more than 10,000 riders, the data is in: women, people with disabilities, and older riders all prefer our seated scooter over our standing scooter and classic e-bike. 

If our industry truly wants to help cities reach their climate goals, we need to diversify and grow ridership with new vehicle types. Not everyone feels comfortable standing on a scooter or pedaling a bike, and we should design accordingly. Cities can help, too, by incentivizing the industry to deploy more accessible vehicles. 

What’s next? Three-wheeled vehicles that support a more balanced ride, vehicles that carry multiple passengers, and vehicles that support cargo hauling are just a few ways we can open up shared vehicles to more riders. Our micromobility future needs to support everyone, from a nurse who wants to sit after a long day standing to the parent who needs a second seat to take their teen to basketball practice. 

With the micromobility industry still in its infancy, we find ourselves at a unique moment to design for the future. What would make it easier for you to ride?

Candice Xie is the Co-Founder and CEO of micromobility company Veo. She is the only woman CEO of a major shared scooter and bike company today.

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