The Role of Ebikes in the Micromobility of the Future of Cities
It’s no secret that cars are a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). In 2020, passenger cars emitted about three billing metric tons of carbon dioxide worldwide. How can we avoid these detrimental emissions while still getting to where we need to go? One of the ways is by taking a closer look at micromobility: traveling with small, lightweight vehicles, such as bikes, scooters, skateboards, etc.
We sat down with Eric Quidenus-Wahlforss, co-founder of Dance, a premium ebike subscription service in Berlin, Germany—that Future of Cities is proud to be a seed investor of—to learn more about his micromibility insights and solutions.
Why an ebike subscription and not one-time-use bikes?
At Dance, our goal is to make cities more sustainable, active, and connected. We believe that by making it easier for people to choose the greener commute option every time, we can achieve that mission.
Our subscription service offers members additional features that might make sustainability the easier, more appealing choice. With their membership, members can use our concierge service: a mechanic that comes to their doorstep for repairs and maintenance within 24 hours at no additional charge.
Traditional bikemakers want consumers to buy a new bike every year, yet repairs, spare parts, etc. aren’t part of the offering. And for sharing companies, members have to rely on fleet planning, among other things, to use those services within their lifestyle.
Though traditional ownership and rental companies are well-established models in micromobility, we believe that there’s an opportunity for a full-service option that is flexible, customer-oriented, and really supports people as they try ebikes over other traditional methods.
What is your goal with Dance? What do you hope to inspire or catalyze with your product and service?
Dance is a startup with big ambitions. We want our world to be more sustainable, and that starts with encouraging greener commutes in cities. We really want to show people that there is a better way to move around and that cycling infrastructure is worth prioritizing. Though cycling can be a common way to move around, it’s still not as prevalent as it could be or should be. And ebikes are key to that change. Ebikes open up cycling to more people with more variety in their commute needs, and our subscription service makes acquiring and maintaining ebikes easy.
Why start with Berlin?
I first came to Berlin 15 years ago to make music. I ended up co-founding SoundCloud and building the music platform in Berlin because of how ideal the city was for creating a company. The then-growing startup scene was just beginning, and the costs and access to talent was ideal.
Today, the same rings true. Plus, Berlin is a hub for micromobility innovation and is very open to new mobility solutions, especially around cycling. But our workforce and our perspective is global. We are one community.
What will it take for city residents to fully embrace micromobility?
The key to adoption of any product is ease of use. Right now, you can buy an ebike, but it can be confusing or complicated for the end user. You can go to a bike shop and be faced with hundreds of choices between components and models or wait 8 months for an ebike you’ll need to assemble yourself.
Our service simplifies everything: order, maintain, and fix your ebike at the push of a button on a schedule that makes sense to you. Going out of town for a few weeks? Return the ebike with no hassle and reactivate your membership when you’re back and ready to return to your routine.
How do you think this can be achieved in the US? Are there any brands/ models already in the works in the U.S.?
I believe there is a global appetite for improved quality of life. You’ve seen an explosion of interest in increased cycling infrastructure around the world. Paris is a great example – look at what they’ve done in just a few years.
Can this method of travel replace vehicles? If yes, why and how?
Data shows that most vehicle trips in the U.S. are 6 miles or less. Those distances might not be ideal for traditional bicycles, but for an ebike that’s a compelling distance. For reference, the Dance One rides for about 34 miles on a single battery charge.
For those interested in Dance that are not in Berlin, can they expect to have access sometime in the future? Any plans for expansion?
We are live in Berlin and have a pilot in Hamburg, but further expansion is definitely on our minds! We’re focusing on making our member experience in Germany great for now, but expansion in other countries, including North America, is definitely interesting to us.
What effects has the pandemic had on the role of walkability and micromobility?
The pandemic helped more people realize the importance of creating more livable communities. A daily bike ride or walk became so important for many during lockdown, for both the physical and mental benefits. And they have realized the benefits of discovering what’s near them via cycling. Cars aren’t always the ideal mode of transportation. We are seeing more people wanting more conscious, active, and low-impact commutes.
What does the future of micromobility looks like?
The future of micromobility is more flexibility. At Dance, we believe there are new ways to create sustainable commutes and communities that go beyond traditional ownership and sharing models. The key is to offer compelling services and software that support our customer’s overall lifestyle.
Is there anything else you’d like to mention that we haven’t asked about?
We’re looking to grow the team! You can check out open roles here: https://dance.co/jobs
Want to learn more about Dance? Visit their site here.