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Crafting policy that regulates micromobility deployments and use can help create a more sustainable, equitable, and affordable service.
Micromobility devices and services present potential solutions for transportation challenges. The rapid pace of development and deployment of micromobility modes and the technologies behind them necessitate new policy and regulatory considerations. Understanding the types of policy tools available can help decision-makers create the appropriate policies for their needs, goals, and context.
Issues & approaches
Unexpected Deployments: Most cities have either heard of or experienced the surprise of waking up to find new micromobility devices distributed along their streets. In order to avoid the potential problems associated with these unexpected deployments, proactively establishing permit models and guidance on micromobility regulations can help local governments ensure that micromobility providers contribute to existing city goals. Using existing transportation, equity, and climate action plans as guides, general guidance on micromobility policies can be established in advance of their arrival.
Safety: The safety or micromobility applies to the devices’ users, other vehicles, and others who also use these shared spaces. Special considerations should be given to those who rely on unobstructed sidewalk access, such as those with mobility or visual impairments. Where policies prevent micromobility devices from being used on sidewalks, efforts should also be made to establish safe and appropriate alternate riding areas, such as additional or expanded ‘bike’ lanes, that do not conflict with other modes.
Equitable Access: Micromobility policies can help promote equitable access of these devices and services by including provisions aimed at serving lower-income and geographically disadvantaged populations. Requiring the consistent placement of devices in underserved areas, reduced fares or usage fees for lower-income users, and creating options for cash payments are all examples of micromobility policy elements that seek to create equitable access.
Data Collection and Management: Requiring micromobility providers to provide data on the usage of their services and devices helps to inform cities of the patterns and trends that impact their overall transportation systems. Data on micromobility usage can reveal deficiencies in transit service, areas of higher non-car travel activity, and users’ demographic information. These types of data can help cities create robust and well-allocated transportation plans, but only if they are aware of how their systems are currently being used. Knowing what types of data to ask for and having the ability to analyze and draw policy conclusions from the data are key considerations for cities as they formulate their micromobility data collection regulations.
Pilot Projects: In an era of rapidly-changing technology and transportation, pilot projects offer a means of testing proposed devices and services in their intended settings before agreeing to their full implementation. The information gained during the pilot project period can help better inform the final version of the policies set for the devices or services—including the decision that the proposed micromobility solution is not a good fit for a city’s needs or goals. The directory of Pilot Projects in the Resources section of this site lists numerous examples of micromobility pilot projects. Evaluating other pilot project terms, goals, and outcomes can help cities create a pilot model that will work best for their needs, as the needs of cities vary.
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