Going Small – The Transition to Urban Micromobility

Speaker: Todd Nguyen

Scheduled in program: Friday, 25th November 04:00 - 04:30 PM
Spin Cycle in Theme: Making it There

Micromobility devices have proliferated around the world and have become part of the new mobility world. But it’s no less a challenge for cities, caught unawares by the explosion of small, single-person vehicles flooding their streets, and faced with managing the wide-ranging implications for transit networks, streetscapes, social justice and human behaviour.

Micromobility includes a range of devices from e-bikes to e-scooters with key brands such as Lime, Bird and Mobike who have experienced rapid growth due to the rising focus on health, wellness and social distancing. The use of e-scooters and e-bikes have become more attractive providing an alternative mode beyond the typical first and last mile use and cities need to be Future Ready™.

The transition to urban micromobility have largely been a ‘move-first-ask-later’ approach by appearing in cities without any notice and rely on lobbying to retain their right to operate, supported by an eager consumer base and a wider argument favouring green, active travel.  To understand the urban micromobility transition, there are various emerging models of operation and regulation, as well as the interrelationships between shared micromobility operators, municipalities and users.

If managed and regulated well, urban micromobility devices have proven to provide key benefits and wins for cities. Some key wins and global examples are:

  • Address existing gaps in city transport networks and connect communities: Paris’ moped operator Cityscoot extended its operating area beyond the ring road, allowing residents to more easily access the metro stations on the other side.
  • Collaborate closely with cities for seamless implementation: In Auckland, the city administration set an initial cap at 600 vehicles and limited them to downtown and the year after a second pilot phase introduced a 15km/h speed limit, geofencing to identify parking outside designated areas, and minimum age for riders of 18, who must also hold a valid driving licence
  • Deploy and implement equitable access/usage: San Francisco developed a permit system for dockless bike share providers which scores on 12 criteria, including community engagement, equitable access and employment practices.