Mobility

New guide helps cities navigate micromobility landscape

Posted on April 25, 2019

The term “micromobility” refers to several modes of transportation, namely docked and dockless bikeshare systems, electric bikes and electric scooters.
Bird
The term “micromobility” refers to several modes of transportation, namely docked and dockless bikeshare systems, electric bikes and electric scooters.Bird

The National League of Cities (NLC) released a new guide, “Micromobility in Cities: A History and Policy Overview” designed for local leaders learning how to best to integrate micromobility options — like e-scooters and bikeshares — into their communities.

“It seems like new mobility options are showing up every day on the streets of America’s cities, towns and villages,” said Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and executive director of the National League of Cities (NLC). “NLC’s micromobility guide provides local leaders with the information they need to tailor local regulations for these new modes of transportation.”

The guide also provides a history of micromobility, from the first bikeshare system launched in 1965 to the rise of e-scooters, which first appeared on city streets in 2017.

The term “micromobility” refers to several modes of transportation, namely docked and dockless bikeshare systems, electric bikes and electric scooters. Many of these modes share some distinct features, such as increased flexibility in routes, access via connected devices like smart phones and shareability. They are also designed to serve individual users.

Micromobilitysystems are an increasingly important part of local transit and transportation options. In 2017, 35 million bike share trips were taken, an increase of 25 percent over the year before. While some communities have figured out the interplay between operators and regulators, others are still working through how to manage this new transportation landscape.

“Unfortunately, the model of entering a city first and asking forgiveness later is alive and well with the advent of these new services,” said Brooks Rainwater, senior executive and director of NLC’s Center for City Solutions.“But by collaborating and working together, the public and private sector can create policies that work for cities, and real mobility options with true seamlessness between modes of transportation.”

Other challenges for communities include ensuring safety, managing curb space, enabling users to take advantage of first and last mile benefits, and launching pilot programs.

Recommendations for local leaders include:

  • Get out in front of surprise deployments.
  • Utilize pilot programs to consider right of way policy, cost structure, sustainability and opportunities to work with different companies.
  • Consider safety.
  • Develop a plan and agreement for trip data.
  • Reevaluate bike infrastructure.
  • Focus on equity.
  • Be proactive about learning from other cities.

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