It is a lovely Monday and the start of a short week on the blog. Blogger has a family commitment and the Candidate Forum needed a week off. Breaking news: Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing him of sexual assault, will testify before the United States Senate next Monday. Blogger does not think that Judge Kavanaugh will withdraw his name from consideration nor will it prevent him from taking a seat on the high court. Yours Truly cannot wait to read Mr. Trump's tweet on the subject. Should be fun. You know what else is fun? Talking about micromobility.
Bird and Lime scooters, autonomous vehicles, dockekess and electric bicycles are everywhere. For better or worse, they are not going anywhere and are gaining popularity as a form of environmentally conscious, alternative, compact form of transportation. They are part of the "micromobility revolution" sweeping the United States, coast-to-coast, reshaping the urban environment. Let us begin with what is a micromobility vehicle is.
Micromobility is a "...compact sized vehicle designed for personal mobility with one or two passengers. There are different types of micro-mobility vehicles such as standing, chair, cycle and car-type and most of gem run via electricity" (frost.com; Sept. 30, 2014; date accessed Sept. 17, 2018). Micromobility is a part of the trend toward urban living over the past ten years. As public transit improved, younger (i.e. Millennials) city dwellers began to move away from single occupancy cars as a primary means for getting around, seeking out mobility alternatives. (apalosangeles.com; Mar. 27, 2018; date accessed Sept. 17, 2018)
In essence, micromobility "consists of the ways in which we get around in the 'first and last mile' of trips" (Ibid). The idea began began with public transportation agencies and cities, like Santa Monica, who took the intiative to provide bike share programs near transit stations. Santa Moncia's Breeze system (santamonicabikeshare.com; date accessed Sept. 17, 2018) and bus system combine to create an effective micromobility network; that has enjoyed popularity and significant growth from the start (Ibid). Traditionally, urban mobility has been dominated by single occupancy vehicles (cars or taxis) and public transportation. Over the past few years the largest American cities have witnessed an expansion of micromobility options and changing urban mobility.
Accelerated urbanization has focused economic activity in localized centers. This has resulted in a denser urban population which has led to growing congestion and ground level pollution, increasing health costs, and gridlocked growth opportunities (citylab.com; Oct. 6, 2017; date accessed Sept. 17, 2018). Further, urban populations are now comprised of digital natives and immigrants with different expectations on where they want to live and move. Smart technologies has created new service models, causing "disruptive transformation of urban mobility" (Ibid).
Venkat Sumantran, Charles Finem and Gonsalvez, the authors of Faster, Smarter, Greener, argue that the "new world of urban mobility is moving toward...'CHIP' mobility environment--meaning connected, heterogeneous, intelligent, personalized. (Ibid). The authors told CityLab a year ago, that cities can do a lot to encourage CHIP by,
...encourage innovators and make space for a multitude of mobility solutions including pedestrians, bikes, and rise-sharing services. They need to invest in better physical and digital connectivity and develop hubs that ease the transactions across heterogeneous modes. Many cities are embarking on 'smart-city' investments which can help provide system and real-time data to support smartphone apps... (Ibid)
If you want to talk about micromobility in terms of who stands to benefit and who does not, the answer is simple. Cities and regions that embrace
...the idea of connected, heterogeneous, and intelligent mobility architectures, build coalitions of companies, citizens,band regional planners to work together,many align policies and investments accordingly.... (Ibid)
Others that stand to benefit are ecosystems that foster techonological innovation and business model experimentation.
The transportation marketplace is blurring the line between private and public modes of transportation, thanks to Uber, Lyft, and newer services such as Chariot and Via. Considered regulation and policy is necessary to ensure a smooth between public and private modes. Mobility is the essence of human civilizations and ease of mobility is crucial as cities become more dense. Some cities will move more quickly towards transportation innovation and those who follow. Other cities will place greater emphasis on individual preference, others on the collective good. Regardless, the hope is a move towards the collective greater good.