Interview with Georges GALLAIS: Understanding Multimodality

Mar 27, 2019Insights

Georges, how do you see the transportation in urban areas and what role shared electric bicycles play in the ecosystem?

We need to start from the basics. The basic thing is that we all need to move to live. Everywhere in the world people move around 3.5 times per day. You need to move because you need to go from somewhere to access services. The services are what a city offers to citizens. Services are schools, jobs, groceries, culture, sport, administrations etc. Anything that keeps you moving. We used, since the 60th, to do it all by cars. Since 40s in US, cars took over the cities and were everywhere. But cars lead to traffic jams, congestion and situations, like for example in China, where you can have a traffic jam for 10 days. This is why we need to think about how to replace the car by others transport organisations.

On average, 50% of citizen trips are 5 km. How do we do? We can walk. But it takes an hour to walk 5 km. We’re always in a hurry. There is transport mode which is offered by cities which is public transport. Public transport is very efficient in terms of number of passengers & CO2 per km, this is the basics of mobility. But a part for 2 of our 3,5 trips, those needed to go to work or study, we can’t always use public transport. Sometimes it is full, delayed, it takes longer routes, or just doesn’t go where I need to go.  So, when we come back to the fact that we need to move 3.5 times per day, public transport doesn’t answer our spatial mobility needs. And that’s where ebikes come along. eBike is one of the best transportation modes in the city. You can go long distances and fast. It is good for environment and health, better than autonomous vehicle.

My experience in car sharing is that when you have a good set of transportation modes in the city, in other words multimodality, you’ll use the car about 6-7 times per month. In cases when you need to carry something big, or your grandmother is in the area, its raining. I’m sure the ebikes will be used around 3 times per week, so more than 10 times per month by one citizen. If you do ebike sharing, you can share the ebike with 30-40 people. And in this case, ebikes changes the city organization. Of course, there are some differences in the cities. For example, in Geneva it is difficult to bike. But basically this is it. We all need to move. Fast. And 50% of the trips are short and often single

One of the biggest challenges in free floating is to contribute to city sustainable development. How can we solve it?

That is a civilization thing and it links to the public system. What are the road and sidewalk? It is something that belongs to the public, managed by the city managers, elected by citizens. And they are in charge of keeping it well organized and to define the rules. When the free floating bikes came, it has started with companies, most from China, who said: okay, we just put bikes with free floating and we don’t care what people will do with them. And then there was battle for 1-2 years between cities and operators. And this comes to technology serving cities.

If you want to educate people to do right, first you have to explain what is the rule. And the second thing is you have to control. Right now in cities there are cameras everywhere to control car parking. And they bill you anytime you break the rule. But for the bikes free floating we don’t have anything like that. The history of dockless bike started 20 years ago in Germany. But in Germany they don’t have such problems. In Germany people respect the rules.

It’s important to be in relations with the city, to help it to organize the free floating. And that’s where eBikeLabs technology is very important. Not only eBikeLabs is on the board with cities to help organize dockless ebike sharing, but your technology gives opportunity to mobility operators to control the fleet and respect the rules.

How can we accelerate the transition to multimodal transportation?

I spend 15 years of my life  in car sharing 2.0. When you do car sharing you say to people: hey, stop owning cars, use car-sharing, public transport and bike. In multimodality you need to help to accelerate the business of your colleagues. The more ebikes will be in the city, the more people will use car sharing. The more people will use car sharing, the more will use public transport. And this is what has been demonstrated in Vancouver. The greenest city in the world! They have public transport, car sharing, bike sharing and reduced the total numbers of cars while increasing the total population. They implement strategies where no one buys a car, operators revenues go to bike lanes construction. It completely changes the transportation in the city. Few cars on the streets, and more bikes.

Now, I build a new company,  called A2BNow. Consulting to go from A to B, and… come back. If you found an ebike to go somewhere, you hope you’ll find a bike to go back. That’s why it’s very important that all the modes are well organized. So, the citizens always have many solutions. It’s called the mobility freedom.

eBikeLabs has a technology that solves the biggest nightmares of mobility operators – it provides powerful anti-theft, advanced connected maintenance, increases operational efficiency,  and provides a safe and enjoyable ride. It answers the demand to keep maximum ebikes available on the street. Which is the formula of success of free floating business: keep the high density of vehicles. The quicker eBikeLabs penetrates the cities, the better. That’s why I’m involved in this project.

About Georges GALLAIS:

Georges GALLAIS, is an expert in urban mobility and a specialist in ITS, autonomous vehicles, A.I. and Smart Cities. In 2006, he founded Vulog which rapidly became an international leader in car sharing. 2017 is the shift for Georges Gallais to a new challenge based on the conviction that networking is key. He founded A2BNOW, a consulting agency, to offer his assistance and in-depth expertise in urban mobility projects. Georges GALLAIS is on the advisory board of eBikeLabs.