Shared micromobility programs for e-scooters and self-service bikes are growing every year. How can we ensure that they are not only used for fun, but are also prioritized for those who need a fast, affordable and accessible way to get around? A team of researchers has collected documents on capital requirements of 239 shared micromobility programs across the United States and compiled all data into an online dashboard, which city officials can use to find out what other cities of a similar size are doing. Equity efforts in one city can pave the way for expanded opportunities in another.
Keeping the focus on equity can make this new technology accessible and affordable, and could improve the lives of people with disabilities, low-income people, those without access to smartphones, and those living in neighborhoods without good access to public transport. . Led by Anne Brown and Amanda Howell of the University of Oregon, with Hana Creger of the Greenlining Institute, the latest report from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) took steps to operationalize equity in these programs: By in other words, simplifying for cities, agencies, and mobility providers to ensure their e-scooter and bike-share programs serve the communities that need them most.
“Our hope is that companies or cities starting a new program can use the dashboard and find specific language for equity requirements in other comparable cities. Micromobility companies are now going to communities more small, but their staff often don’t have the bandwidth to dig deep into what other places are doing,” Brown said.
Dashboard filters allow the user to sort by mode, city population size, and specific program requirements. Rather than reinventing the wheel, cities looking to introduce a new program or redesign their existing micromobility service can quickly scan the dashboard and get detailed information on discount fare programs, geographic distribution, adapted vehicles , cash payment options, alternatives to smartphones, targeted marketing and awareness. , and multilingual services.
The researchers also created a Shared Micromobility Equity Assessment Toolwhich allows equity program managers to see their equity “score” in three key areas: process, implementation and evaluation.
Related research: Breaking down barriers to bike sharing. In a 2018 NITC study, researchers from Portland State University and the Better Bike Share Partnership assessed equity programs in bike share systems. In 2020 they come out ten equity briefing notes to guide operators of bike-sharing schemes. This new study from the UO study builds on that bodywork by increasing the number of systems studied from approximately 70 to 239; including electric scooters and self-service bicycles; and compiling a wealth of regulatory languages and tools that cities and agencies can draw from.
SO WHAT ARE CITIES DOING FOR EQUITY RIGHT NOW?
The researchers found that fairness requirements were common, but far from universal. Of the 239 programs they studied, 149 of them (about 62%) had equity-related requirements. Other cities and agencies had language recommending, encouraging, or stating that equity-based program elements were desirable, but did not require operators to implement them.
The most common equity requirements in bike share and e-scooter programs were those that targeted implementation equity as depicted in the graphic above, with process and assessment requirements being less common. In the area of implementing equity, cities most commonly include requirements related to access to technology, such as requiring alternative smartphone access (found in 35% of programs), cash payment options (33%) and a reduced fare option (32%). .
The least common requirement, found in only 5% of programs, was the requirement to include vehicles adapted for people with disabilities.
Equity requirements were found to be more common among e-scooter programs than bike-sharing programs, although joint micromobility programs (e-scooter plus bike share) were the most likely to have equity requirements. Most cities and agencies that enact equity requirements focus on expanding access to shared micromobility services; fewer evaluate the results of shared micromobility.
“Unfortunately, there is always a disconnect between objectives, implementation and results. For example, cities want to expand access, so they will have a reduced tariff requirement, but they do not really collect data for understand the use of these programs. So how effective are these programs? This is still a very difficult question to answer, as most places do not collect the data they need to answer. to these questions,” Howell said.
HOW CAN CITIES ADVANCE EQUITY IN MICROMOBILITY?
Cities and agencies vary widely in their approach to advancing equity in shared micromobility programs. The research team identified some promising approaches, including:
- Match operational incentives to desired equity outcomes: This helps to ensure that there is a clear arc connecting the specific objectives to the program requirements.
- Dedicate staff time and resources to manage shared micromobility programs: cities with staff dedicated to promoting equity in shared micromobility programs are instrumental in implementing strong equity offerings.
- Match each program requirement with targeted data collection: Data is needed to assess how well each requirement achieves its objectives.
- Conduct transparent assessments: Clear evaluations will help measure progress and identify future avenues for improvement or iteration.
- Define program objectives and agree on a common definition of equity: Cities, no matter how strong their city- or program-level goals, should strengthen the links between the stated goals of the micromobility program, the required equity components, and the data collected.
- Moving towards a community empowerment model: Overall, the cities and agencies interviewed for this project did not conduct a mobility needs assessment before launching a shared micromobility program. These assessments help identify and understand unmet needs in the community and develop solutions in partnership with those community members. An assessment could determine how a micromobility program would fit into the larger context of community priorities – or even if it was a priority. Significant changes are needed in the way they include community input, devoting resources to open mobility needs assessments.
Finally, cities must link program-specific efforts to the broader efforts needed to truly advance equity. Even the most accessible shared micromobility programs cannot compensate for missing infrastructure or unsafe streets. In the words of one service provider the researchers spoke to: operators “can bring data to the table”, but they “can’t provide the money or the political will to make the big changes in infrastructure that are needed”.
Brown and Howell will present an overview of their findings and demonstrate both tools online, in a free webinar on September 21, 2022.
This research was led by Dr. Anne Brown, assistant professor in the School of Planning, Public Policy and Management at the University of Oregon, and Amanda Howell, research fellow at the Urbanism Next Center at the University of Oregon. ‘Oregon. Research assistance was provided by Zoe Green (meets an OU student in this interview) and in consultation with the shared mobility equity expertise of: Hana Creger (The Greenlining Institute), Duncan Hwang (APANO), Río Oxas (RAHOK) and Clarrissa Cabansagan.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
Translating the research into a practical project: Using online maps and tools to operationalize equity in shared mobility services
This research was funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, with additional support from the Knight Foundation.
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The National Institute of Transportation and Communities (NITC) is one of seven National University Transportation Centers of the U.S. Department of Transportation. NITC is a program of the Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University. This PSU-led research partnership also includes the Oregon Institute of Technology, University of Arizona, University of Oregon, University of Texas at Arlington, and University of Utah. We pursue our theme – improving the mobility of people and goods to build strong communities – through research, education and technology transfer.
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