ITS Deployment Evaluation Executive Briefing: Micromobility Services and Equity
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ITS Deployment Evaluation Executive Briefing: Micromobility Services and Equity

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      The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) broadly defines micromobility as “any small, low-speed, human- or electric-powered transportation device, including bicycles, scooters, electric-assist bicycles, electric scooters (e-scooters), and other small, lightweight, wheeled conveyances” [1]. Most typically, travelers do not own micromobility vehicles but rather rent them as part of a micromobility service. Examples of micromobility services include Washington D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare, Los Angele’s Metro Bike, New York City’s Citi Bike, and numerous other privately owned micromobility services. To rent a vehicle travelers use a cell phone app to locate and book a vehicle and then pay with their credit card. The system will charge users based either on how long they rent the vehicle or how far they ride. Because of their convenience, micromobility services have seen rapid growth. According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), in 2010 travelers took 321,000 trips on bike sharing services. By 2019, that number had surged, with travelers taking about 50 million trips on bike sharing services. Likewise, e-scooter trips have grown, with NACTO reporting a 45 percent increase in trips taken on escooters between 2018 and 2019 [2]. Although micromobility services have numerous potential benefits, users, advocates, and public officials have raised significant equity concerns. Because micromobility systems rely heavily on cell phone apps for booking and payment, this may exclude certain demographic groups who do not have cell phones or do not use electronic payment methods. Additionally, many micromobility services are operated by for-profit companies, their profit motive often conflicts with equity goals. For example, some private mobility providers may seek to deploy their vehicles only in higher-income areas, limiting the ability of lower-income travelers to access these services [4]. Finally, micromobility vehicles sometimes block sidewalks or are ridden in a reckless manner which can create accessibility and quality-of-life issues for other travelers. Through deployment experience public authorities have gradually developed a set of best practices to regulate micromobility services which can help ensure equitable access to services and shared benefits by all travelers.
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