Recent years have seen an increase in shared means of transport from city bikes to various electric vehicles, such as skateboards. They are popular especially among young people and seem to be becoming more commonplace in general.   

This article has been written as a part of the EU-funded CIVITAS ECCENTRIC -project: 

Text by Sari Järvinen.

The suspension of the electric skateboard squeaks as I strap my feet to the bindings on the board. Adrenaline Finland’s Jani Karvinen hands me a tiny remote. If I press the button on it, the board will start to move. 

I stop for a moment to work up the courage.  I am standing on one of Finland’s first electric offroad skateboards intended for shared use. They were intended to bee made available for rent in the Kupittaa district in June 2020.  

- Electric skateboard are subject to the same rules as bicycles, which means that you can ride them in bicycle lanes. Generally speaking, they are suitable for everyone, Niko Aitta of Adrenaline Finland assures.

Various shared means of transport have increased in prevalence in Turku in recent years, and the trend shows no signs of waning. City of Turku and the CIVITAS ECCENTRIC project have sought to lay the groundwork, promote communications and organise new shared use trials for rental vehicles, such as electric skateboard, which will be made available for rent at the Kupittaa skating rink maintained by the City.

Jani Karvinen testing an electric offroad skateboard, which will be made available for rent. The set also includes a helmet as well as knee and elbow pads. Picture: Sari Järvinen.

Opportunity to choose

The skateboard gets off to a smooth start, and even though my middle-aged knees go limp like overcooked spaghetti, I stay on the board. 
The skateboard is actually quite fun to ride. It demonstrates the benefits of shared use: freedom and new experiences without concerns. 

- Many appreciate the opportunity to choose their favourite mode of transport. You can even cover one leg of your trip on a city bike and another by bus, for example. Some city residents are eager to try new things and be among the first to test the new opportunities. The masses will follow later,” says Stella Aaltonen, project manager for CIVITAS ECCENTRIC, who has specialised in shared use.

Alongside providing amazing new experiences, the shared rentals, such as city bikes, yield more serious benefits: they are part of the circular economy, which aims to conserve natural resources. The idea is to use materials as efficiently and sustainably as possible.  

- Turku aims to become carbon neutral by 2029, which is another reason promoting the circular economy is important, Aaltonen says.

Save money

At the same time, the costs of driving have increased.  According to Aaltonen, it is already more affordable to use shared modes of transport in Turku than drive around in your own car. 

Private cars are just standing idle between uses. According to a pertinent study, a private car is in actual use only 3% of the time,” Aaltonen says.
She urges everyone to consider where to invest. Is it really wise to tie up your funds in a car that mostly just sits in the yard accumulating rust? 

- People often lose track of how much driving actually costs.

This is also indicated by a study commissioned by Santander Consumer Finance in 2018. According to the study, only a small percentage of Finnish drivers can accurately estimate the operating costs of their car.

In addition to fuel, the expenses include depreciation, repairs, maintenance, insurance and inspection fees, and washing the car. Sometimes, the parking space in the yard is also subject to a fee. Those living in a detached house often build a garage or shelter with a price tag of thousands of euros. As the trend of urbanisation continues, people live closer together and there is less space for parking areas. 
Rental cars with the press of a button

I click to open the car rental agency’s shared use page and enter Ratapihankatu 53, Turku, as the location. The map indicates that the closest available car is no more than 300 metres away at the railway station. 

Rental Network Oy, Finland’s largest company promoting carsharing, has found the use of carsharing services to be increasing: In 2020, the growth stood at 20–35%.  This is important because plenty of shared vehicles should be available to ensure that the system works reliably.

- There is demand in Turku, and people have requested more cars. We will naturally try to provide more, but additional parking is required, Rental Network’s (24Rent) Managing Director Matti Hänninen explains.

This is true, because rental cars need parking spaces when they are waiting for the next user.  

In Spain, the city of Madrid found a solution to the problem. Providers of carsharing services are required acquire a separate section of car parks for their vehicles. This means that shared electric cars, electric mopeds, electric bicycles and electric cargo bikes are available under the same roof.

- We have been hoping that Turku could test a similar arrangement in its car parks. The car parks could even host new kinds of business, such as bicycle service points. This kind of entrepreneurship could become more popular in Finland, too, Aaltonen says.

Encouragement from employers 

The City of Turku updated its parking policies recently. Aaltonen says this facilitates new kinds of permits. 

- Bear in mind that not all parking area are owned by the City, as some are in the ownership of private entities. The shared use of charging points is also being developed under the new USER-CHI project, Aaltonen says.

Companies can also encourage their employees to explore vehicle sharing by discontinuing car allowances or organising carpools with a neighbouring company, for example. Aaltonen finds that housing companies are perfectly positioned to increase shared mobility, because they can set aside a parking space for a shared vehicle. 

This vision of the future has already materialised for the rental housing on Hippoksentie.

Shared use is the future

A car and van intended for shared use stand in their designated parking spaces in the yard of the Lumo Kodit housing complex. They are available for rent to the residents as well as other 24Rent customers. In addition to this, the bicycle shelter features an electric bicycle owned by Lumo Kodit, which the residents can use free of charge.  

- It provides a different riding experience and helps cover longer distances than you normally could on a traditional bicycle,” says Katri Kronström, regional manager for Lumo Kodit. 

Shared use and the availability of shared vehicles have increased among Lumo residents.

- Shared use is the future. Young people are less likely to purchase a car than older generations. This is a clear trend, since the demand for parking spaces has decreased in new buildings with a lot of student residents. As such, increasing housing-related services is at the core of our strategy, Kronström explains.

In Lumo homes, especially the shared van has had enough demand among the residents. Photo: Sari Järvinen.