Driven by the Pandemic: The Experience of Sustainable Mobility in Four European Cities During the Covid Crisis

Authors: Egle Vaiciukynaite*, Kaunas University of Technology, Kaunas, Lithuania, Venere Stefania Sanna, Centre for Politics and International Studies - CeSPI, Rome, Italy, Vera Diogo, School of Higher Education - Polytechnic Institute of Porto, Portugal, Aniko Bernat , TÁRKI Social Research Institute, Budapest, Hungary
Topics: Urban Geography, Transportation Geography, Qualitative Research
Keywords: bike sharing, e-scooter sharing, sustainable mobility, Covid-19, European-city comparison
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 38
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Bike (and recently e-scooter) sharing systems have become a common feature of the modern urban landscape in many European cities, providing residents and visitors with new modes of light, sustainable transportation.
The Covid-19 ‘syndemic’ (Horton 2020) has had a rapid and significant impact on every aspect of urban life due to measures adopted worldwide to slow the spread of the virus (e.g. restriction of movement). The effects of these on urban mobility have not been identical for all urban transportation. Use of private cars has increased, but use of all other means of transport has fallen. However in some cities, cycling – and notably bike sharing– has experienced the lowest decrease.
The pandemic has also prompted local governments to encourage the use of sustainable transport (e.g. cycle paths, economic incentives), that could generate changes in how urban travellers traverse their cities, and how cities are planned and built in the future.
This paper discusses the results of a four-EU-city comparison – Budapest, Lisbon, Rome and Vilnius – which suggests that despite their flourishing, bike and e-scooter sharing systems are characterised by uneven spatial distribution, and have raised equity-focused criticism for not reaching minority, low-income populations, etc.
After examining the complex landscape of bike and e-scooter sharing practices in these cities, and the changes that occurred during the pandemic, this comparative and survey-based research aims to identify similarities and differences between them, and their potential to transform social and cultural values in the context of a “caring” and just economy.

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