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Brett Grist, Contract Director for Mobility Gear up for more eco-friendly travel: A 10-point path to a successful micro-mobility scheme.

Any organisation or partner supporting the ambitious Vision 2030 of the Saudi Government, especially through operations in the nation's giga cities such as Neom, AlUla and Red Sea Global, must carefully balance the need for infrastructural progression with wider sustainability goals from the project’s inception.

A particularly challenging area for achieving this balance is in transportation and this is not just confined to the Kingdom. According to the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, transportation is a major consumer of energy, second only to the industrial sector, accounting for a substantial one-third of global energy consumption[1].

Carefully balance the need for infrastructural progression with wider sustainability goals

Saudi Arabia's own targets are bold: scaling back the historic 7% annual increase in transport emissions to just 3% by 2030. Amidst expansive development, a swelling population and the goal of attracting upwards of 150 million visitors within the decade, the challenge is substantial.

However, the advancement of urban landscapes does not necessitate a parallel increase in transport carbon emissions. Embracing a comprehensive, multi-modal transport strategy, Saudi Arabia’s giga cities aim to decouple growth from emissions, striving for carbon-neutral transportation.

One environmentally friendly area of transportation, powered by clean energy and traditional pedal-power, is micro-mobility, or as most people know them pedal bikes, e-bikes and electric scooters.



The global success of micro-mobility schemes, endorsed by governments and private entities alike and providing bikes for hire to millions of residents and tourists annually in cities such as London, Paris and Vancouver, is testament to its viability.

These schemes cater efficiently to first and last-mile commutes and offer an array of benefits, including lowering emissions, enhanced air quality  and easing traffic congestion, all key indicators for any country, including Saudi Arabia, looking to achieve net zero goals. In addition, for the users they provide a health and fitness benefit and for many are deemed a fun way to travel and explore.

However, there is not one size fits all solution, what works in Paris would not automatically work here in Saudi. Instead, micro-mobility initiatives must align with each city's distinct objectives and key considerations must be considered to design a sustainable and successful micro-mobility programme.  

These include:

Overall vision
The journey to implementing successful micro-mobility systems in Saudi Arabia begins with an all-encompassing approach to planning.

Multi-modal integration
Micro mobility is often used for first and last-mile journeys, so how do they fit in with other modes of transport being utilised?

Customer journey
The focus must be on tailoring the micro-mobility experience to the needs of the user, whether it's the daily commute or leisurely exploration. Varied transit demands need to be catered for, ensuring that micro-mobility becomes a convenient option for both an A to B journey (such as someone heading into work) and circular journeys (a tourist exploring the area by bike).

Availability versus operational costs
The public will only be able to use the scheme if it is reliable and the right transport is available when they need it. But more bikes or scooters then equal more investment. This is another balancing act. Having a scalable and flexible solution, enabling you to adapt to demand must be considered. 

Democratising transportation means making it accessible and affordable for everyone. Micro-mobility solutions should be affordable, offering diverse demographic segments, including shift workers, more transportation equity.

Operational infrastructure
Running micro-mobility schemes is an intricate operation, incorporating maintenance of both bikes and docking stations, revenue collection, customer support and more. Balancing operational excellence with cost-efficiency is crucial to ensure the longevity and success of the project.

Adaptation to Environment
Micro-mobility as with all transport modes, must be tailored to Saudi’s distinctive climatic and geographical conditions.

Safety and Adoption
A safe, well-thought-out scheme will drive adoption, by increasing user confidence. Infrastructure, such as cycle lanes, must be designed with user safety as the paramount concern. Whilst proactive safety campaigns and community outreach will help to foster confidence.

Harnessing the power of technology is central to the success of micro-mobility. Digital interfaces like user-friendly apps for route planning, vehicle tracking and real-time information must be harmonised with the physical elements of the scheme to deliver a seamless user experience.

Troubleshooting the customer experience
Every eventuality your customer might encounter, or indeed themselves cause, needs to be considered. What security measures will be put in place to protect bikes from vandalism and theft? What type of system will you use for collecting, storing and charging the bikes? How will you prevent bikes being abandoned and making pedestrian areas appear untidy? And where will repairs happen? All these challenges and more a good operator will have considered and prepared solutions for up front, with clear processes and instructions shared, thus providing clarity for both the public and the operations team.

The implementation of micro-mobility in Saudi Arabia’s giga cities is not merely about creating another transport option. It is about reimagining mobility to enhance the quality of life and help move the Kingdom closer to its net zero goals.  However, in addition to championing its environmental benefits, the economics must be sustainable, ensuring both user affordability and operational viability.  

Through partnering with the private sector on such initiatives the Saudi Government can take their wealth of knowledge, resources and experience from international micro-mobility schemes and transfer it to the Kingdom. One such operator is Serco, who last year were contracted by Red Sea Global (RSG) to act as the managing agent for their full suite of sustainable mobility services across The Red Sea.

Globally, Serco is an established micro-mobility operator, running schemes across the UK, including, since 2010, operations for the hugely successful London Cycle Hire Scheme. To date, Serco has operated schemes resulting in 25million km being travelled over 11 million journeys, offsetting 70+ tonnes of CO2. In October 2022 Serco also worked with Transport for London to successfully introduce the first batch of 500 e-bikes into the London scheme achieving more than 600K hires in the first year.