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Life & Info: Commuting, short-distance travel made fun and easy on electric bikes and scooters in Seoul Updated: 2019-05-17 07:25:17 KST

Time now for our "Life & Info" segment where we focus on information useful for your everyday life.
Well, I think we've all experienced running late for work or an appointment that's too far to reach by foot but too close for a bus ride.
A number of so-called micro mobility platforms are aiming to close this gap.
We have Oh Soo-young in the studio to discuss these solutions.
We've had bike-sharing for quite some time now, but these micro mobility platforms have exploded in popularity all of a sudden. What changed?

Well, over the past few months, we've seen a sudden boom of smartphone applications which rent out dockless bicycles and electric scooters.
As you mentioned, bike sharing apps have been around for about three years or so, mostly for leisure. A ride by the river, for instance. What's changed in recent months is that new platforms are optimizing services for commutes, and short distance journeys around the city.

(Korean- 1)
"Our service helps reduce commute time substantially and also makes it more enjoyable. Our users mostly use G. Bikes for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, although some use it for much longer. The response to our service has been great so far -- with the number of users amounting to twenty to thirty times more than what we anticipated."

The biggest advantage they have is that they are dockless. The biggest bicycle sharing platform at the moment is Seoul Bike, which has designated bike stands for rental and return.
But with a growing number of bike-sharing firms like G. Bike, you can look for an available bicycle near you, using a GPS-based app, unlock it within seconds, hop on and be on your way.
If you have trouble locating the bike, you can activate a bell to find it.
Once you've reached your destination, you don't have to look for a bike stand. You can simply leave it there for someone else to use.

So it's convenient but what about the price? Does it beat taking public transport?

It definitely does. G Bike, for instance, allows you to borrow a bike for just ten minutes at a time for 200 won -- less than 20 cents
So that's about one fifth the price of a single journey bus fare.
You can of course cycle as long as you like, with the rate applying every ten minutes. So that's much more flexible than shared bikes with fixed hourly charges, which also require you to return and borrow them again for continued use, after the initial hour.

It's more convenient to use and reasonabl priced compared to shared bicycle platforms we've had previously -- and traditional modes of transport.
I assume the same goes for electric scooters? I've seen quite a lot of people zipping around on these recently.

That's right. Electric scooter rentals first launched last year in the country on a platform called Kickgoing, which lets you borrow a scooter for as little as five minutes. It costs 1000 won or just under a dollar, with 10 cents added for every minute after that.

(Korean_ 2)
"Scooters have largely been used for leisure but it's an ideal means of transport in a complex city. It's also eco-friendly. 80 percent of cars on the road are used by the driver alone. Electric scooters are one-hundredth of their size and also consume one-hundredth the amount of energy, without emitting greenhouse gases. The number of users and the level of usage has grown three-fold since March 1st."

So it's bit pricier than renting a dockless bike but it's a more compact and speedier way to get around while beating the traffic, as electric scooters can travel up to 25 kilometers per hour.

I knew they were quick, but not that fast.

Yes, I got to have a go and it takes off quite abruptly as well, so you really want to be careful. In fact, it's required by law to wear a helmet, so make sure you have one with you.

In fact, there are some safety issues I hear. I'm also had a couple of close shaves myself with inexperienced riders driving on the sidewalk

That's right. Actually, it's funny you say that as electric scooters can't be used on sidewalks or bicycle lanes as they could pose danger to pedestrians and cyclists traveling under 25 kilometers per hour.
They are currently only allowed on roads alongside cars, which means you need to have a driver's license.
( )
Platform companies have been complaining that this restricts usage while developing insurance packages for their services to cover potential accidents.
Given the surge in demand for micro-mobility services and the promising outlook on market growth given the increasing number of single households as well as environmental concerns, it looks like the government may ease some of these restrictions during the latter half of this year to allow electric scooters to run on bicycle lanes and maybe without a driver's license. But we'll have to see about that.

Thanks for your report today Sooyoung.
Thanks for having me.
Reporter : osy@arirang.com
KOGL : Korea Open Government License
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