Micromobility, Equity and Sustainability – Summary and Conclusions

1035 days ago

8 minutes

Please see below the executive summary from International Transport Forum or click the link to view the full document.

What we did

This report examines how micromobility (e-scooters, electric bikes and pedal bikes, whether docked or
dockless and other forms of light mobility) can address congestion, CO2 emissions and air quality in cities
and benefit users. It reviews benefits and social costs to inform the development of governance and
regulatory frameworks that can maximise the contribution of shared e-scooters, electric bikes and pedal
bikes to accessibility and sustainable mobility and minimise negative effects, particularly for pedestrians.

What we found

Existing urban mobility solutions cannot keep up with the growth of cities and struggle to contain
congestion, noise, pollution and inefficient use of limited space. Shared micromobility can reshape urban
mobility by offering a sustainable transport option that improves accessibility. Shared micromobility
predominantly replaces walking, cycling and public transport trips yet could also substitute short car trips.
The broadest benefit of integrating shared micromobility services into urban transport could be increasing
the catchment area of public transport. Their widespread availability, particularly for first/last-mile
connections, could improve access while shortening commuting time and reducing reliance on cars.
However, micromobility – especially e-scooters – raise concerns of nuisance on sidewalks, the safety of
users and pedestrians, its substitution over walking reducing the health benefits of physical activity, and
potential adverse environmental impacts from the production and disposal of vehicles and batteries and
generation of electricity. Negative effects of micromobility need to be weighed against the significant
consumer benefits they offer and their potential to replace less sustainable trips. Data on the negative
impacts of micromobility suggests these are comparatively small. The whole transport system must be
considered from this perspective to make informed policy decisions.
Most city authorities agree that micromobility enriches urban mobility, has the potential to change user
behaviour and thus help transition to low-carbon urban mobility. Operators and authorities concur that
the extent to which such benefits will be reaped depends on getting the regulatory framework for
micromobility right. Finding agreement on what interventions work best is challenging, however.

What we recommend

Base regulation on sustainable urban mobility policy objectives

Micromobility regulation should support the objectives of sustainable and equitable urban mobility
planning. This means facilitating service availability across the urban area and promoting accessibility. It
should also foster innovation and competition between operators and manage their use of street space.
Integration with other modes, particularly public transport, will create social welfare benefits and replace
car travel offered by these new services and improve accessibility. For micromobility to contribute to
reversing car-dependent mobility will depend primarily on broader regulatory and fiscal policies to contain
car traffic.

Consult micromobility companies on public policy issues early and often to avoid distorting regulations

Proactive engagement and collaboration with micromobility companies should help reduce the need for
distorting regulations. City authorities should consider constructive proposals from micromobility companies
for meeting overall mobility objectives in the way they regulate and award concessions. On their end,
micromobility companies should be proactive in addressing public concerns.

Apply outcome-based regulations linked to specific performance criteria

Cities should focus on the expected outcomes from a regulation instead of specific, mandatory processes or
actions. Identifying clear performance indicators is helpful to understand how successful operators are and
where they can improve. Criteria such as the number of trips per micro-vehicle per day should be used to
regulate fleet size instead of static fleet caps. Targets for stationing vehicles in areas with poor transit access
could ensure that micromobility serves sustainability and equity objectives. Cities should work with operators
on performance criteria and base regulation on factors within micromobility providers’ control.

Ensure limits on market access allow competition; avoid static caps on shared micromobility vehicle fleets

Cities need to monitor markets to ensure that any limits imposed on the number of operators do not unduly
limit availability or competition. Sharing a restricted number of permits equally between many operators may
compromise the sustainability of operations. At the same time, markets with only three players raise concerns
over potential oligopolistic behaviour. Instead of arbitrarily restricting the number of operators, cities should
encourage competition among them and accept multiple operators as part of the city’s mix of mobility services.
Where a city sees a need to manage the number of shared micromobility vehicles on its streets, it should use
dynamic caps based on specific performance indicators, such as the utilisation rate of vehicles, rather than by
a static limit. Lower utilisation rates might be appropriate in neighbourhoods of concern in respect to inclusivity.

Limit data-reporting requirements to information used for mobility planning

Data reporting is an essential aspect of designing outcome-based regulations. When mandating data reporting,
cities need to consider how the data will be used. Thought should be given to the strategic goal and the most
valuable data to reach it. Producing performance indicators for sustainability and accessibility requires data on
deployment, repositioning, use and lifetime of vehicles. Mandates should limit the reporting burden on
operators to data needed for agreed performance benchmarks. Generally, all transport modes should have fair
and balanced reporting requirements. Such data would enable cities to identify priorities for improvement and
understand their impact on the whole transport network.

Set regulatory fees in light of the potential value of micromobility for sustainable mobility and the uncertain
viability of business models

High regulatory fees imposed on micromobility companies are likely to limit the supply, reduce socio-economic
welfare and make operations unviable. Cities should ensure that any fees are consistent with the negative
impacts they are intended to address. Governments could consider bearing (the majority of) regulation
administrative costs when justified by the benefits of more widespread use of micromobility.

Support equitable and affordable micromobility services

Shared micromobility should be promoted in areas of cities that are not currently well served by public transport
networks. To ensure that it is financially viable for micromobility companies to provide service in all areas of the
city, cities should minimise the burdens on providers from fees and caps on fleets. Cities might consider
subsidies to service providers to achieve desired connectivity improvements.

Follow the principle of mode-neutrality when developing an urban transport system

City authorities should consider all transport modes when planning, regulating and funding transport services.
They should assess their respective contribution to positive social, economic, and environmental outcomes.
Governments should treat all transport modes fairly when imposing limits on access, speed or parking. They
should evaluate the rules and fees applied to different transport modes – particularly to private cars – before
putting in place restrictive regulations for micromobility. Comparing the full costs and charges for different
types of transport will improve decisions on policy interventions.

Reallocate road and parking space to micromobility users, cyclists and pedestrians

Roads and parking spaces are disproportionally allocated to cars. Shared micromobility has increased the
demand for redistributing urban space. Expanding dedicated cycling lanes to accommodate micromobility will
also improve conditions for cyclists and enhance safety and safety perceptions. This will make it more attractive
to cycle and use electric micromobility. Getting parking right is crucial. Sharing schemes as well as personal
micromobility will benefit from repurposing private car parking spaces. This can maximise the take-up of these
modes and thus help realise their wider benefits for urban policy. At the same time, it would reduce nuisance
and minimise conflicts between modes.

Address motor vehicle speeds when regulating micromobility speed

Speed limits for micro-vehicles should recognise the value of speed for establishing micromobility as an
alternative to car trips. A speed limit of 25 km/h on appropriate infrastructure makes micromobility more
competitive with cars than limiting speed to 20 km/h. Lower speeds may be appropriate in areas with heavy
pedestrian traffic. More broadly, 30 km/h is the maximum limit recommended for cars in city streets to reduce
the risk of death or serious injury from a collision of cars with pedestrians and other vulnerable road users.
Limiting cars, motorised two-wheelers and micromobility to the same low speeds on streets with mixed
motorised and non-motorised traffic is a logical approach.

Apply coherent regulation that treats micromobility operators equally

Agreeing on a single set of rules applied uniformly across all operators in a city will facilitate the use of
micromobility and reduce the regulatory burden on companies. Micromobility should be regulated as a class,
not device by device, given similar operational characteristics in terms of speed and size. Neighbouring cities
should also co-ordinate to harmonise approaches. Direction from national-level governments can help to
standardise regulation but should avoid suppressing innovation by operators and regulators. Safety
characteristics of vehicles also require coherent regulation.

Adopt a permissive and adaptive regulatory approach to micromobility

Governments should ensure that regulatory interventions do not impede innovation. Regulation should allow
service providers to adopt new business models and technologies and respond to demand. Regulatory barriers
should be minimised to enable operators to gain footholds in urban mobility markets. Micromobility is at an
early stage of innovation and requires flexible regulation for market access that is updated as the market
evolves. Trialling regulatory approaches has proven valuable in many cities. Pilot projects produce data for
evaluation and allow insights into how behaviours and outcomes change. They allow experimentation, bedding in and solving problems through experience and negotiation before regulatory intervention. Evaluations and
amendments should be planned and clear timelines provided to micromobility companies to reduce
uncertainty and risks to their business models.”


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