Testing e-scooters in Fukuoka
Increasing Fukuoka’s transportation options is another exciting way that Fukuoka Smart East is bringing innovation to the city. In addition to exploring autonomous delivery vehicles and buses, we are looking into the possibility of introducing e-scooters to the community – a first for Japan. These electronic scooters provide a cleaner alternative to cars, and also give riders access to a more affordable transportation option than owning a vehicle.
Testing in Fukuoka
This autumn, Fukuoka Smart East’s Promoting Consortium conducted PoC e-scooter demonstrations as part of the Fukuoka Smart East initiative. Over a few weekends, both Bird Rides, Inc. and Lime, from Neutron Holdings Inc., were given a chance to show off their e-scooter offerings.
Members of the public and media were invited to attend and participate in portions of the trial days. This gave the community the ability to experience and contribute to the future of Fukuoka’s transportation options. With residents of Fukuoka zipping around the track in Kaizuka Park, it was clear that e-scooters would be a popular choice if approved.
Benefits of e-scooters
The world’s dependence on automobiles has created a negative environmental impact as well as a stressful driving culture. By using e-scooters, riders can get where they need to go without harming the environment as much as they would in a car. E-scooters would also allow people to be outside and enjoying the fantastic weather in Fukuoka as they ride.
The companies that Fukuoka Smart East invited to the PoC test event both have app-based sharing platforms. This means that riders would not have to own their own e-scooter in order to access the transportation they need. Instead, they could simply open the app, find the nearest available scooter, and go! Rentals like these help make transportation available to more people without introducing a high upfront cost.
Local Regulatory Considerations
If you are familiar with Japan’s driving laws, then you may know that e-scooters are currently not approved forms of transportation. However, as Fukuoka has earned the designation as a National Strategic Special Zone, there is potential for more relaxed regulations. As with any innovative technology, a cost/benefit analysis must be performed to see if the introduction of e-scooters makes sense for not just Fukuoka Smart East, but Japan in general.
Having Fukuoka as a testing ground for these e-scooters is an excellent start to investigating the benefits of considering a revision to the current system. While no decision has been made about the future of e-scooters in Fukuoka just yet, we will keep you informed as the project develops.