Beyond Equity — A Strategy for Developing Critical Leadership in Transportation

Day 2: NACTO & BBSP’s Cities for Cycling Roundtable

by Farrah Daniel, Better Bike Share Partnership Writer

On June 15, the National Association of Transportation Officials and BBSP kicked off the third annual BBSP Bike Share and Cities for Cycling Roundtable. This year, the roundtable welcomes the host cities of Baltimore, Maryland; Alexandria and Arlington, Virginia; and Washington D.C. 

Due to COVID-19, things will look a little different this year — the roundtable has gone virtual! While it will be a shift from previous years, 2020’s two-week virtual event will still create plenty of space for city practitioners to “connect for a peer learning opportunity to discuss the changing landscape of shared micromobility, and explore how increased ridership might impact bike lane design and bike infrastructure,” reads NACTO’s event page.

Between the panels, interactive workshops and design exercises, participants will walk away with “new tools and implementation techniques to build better bike networks, as well as brainstorm process changes and challenges for managing and regulating shared micromobility.”

It’s important to note that the roundtable is only open to those working directly for cities, with the exception of two public events that welcomes everyone. But to keep you in the loop, BBSP will be regularly sharing mini-blogs about the daily events and what they entailed — we covered day 1, so let’s continue with day 2.

Day 2, June 16 – State of the Micromobility Industry

Session panelists

  • Aaron Ritz – Philadelphia/North American Bike Share Association (NABSA)
  • Kim Foltz – Boston
  • Kyle Kozar – Santa Monica
  • Martina Haggerty – Providence 

Workshop objective: From mergers to market closures, shared micromobility continue to be a quickly-evolving landscape. Join us for a discussion and small-group interactive workshop to talk through what steps cities are taking to adapt to this new normal, and what support is needed for the future.

Some takeaways:

The four panelists spoke of the trials and triumphs they experience as they attempt to implement bike share in their cities as well as support their communities’ need for reliable transportation during COVID-19. The ensuing conversation was one filled with thought-provoking statements and questions, and one thing was made very clear: Cities need to make their practices and requirements (think: bike share contracts) more widely accessible to city and planning practitioners who put equity first — because equity can’t be left up to the companies that are more focused on the bottom line. Here are a few pieces of the conversation that took place:

“If you’re using a contract model be sure to include very specific requirements for staffing and funding any engagement programs. This work is crucial and it’s the first thing to get cut during these tough times.
”

“Has anyone developed a set of metrics to help cities judge the best way to manage and invest in micromobility? The older [trips per bike per day] metric doesn’t really measure mobility, and I think some trips are more valuable than others (trips in transit desert/low-income areas, etc). Having a good metric would allow us to measure the procurement approach versus permitting approach [as well as] how best cities can efficiently invest in mobility.”

“Is anyone willing to share their contracts or contract language with equity provisions [and] staffing/funding requirements? [The previous] question is so fascinating and I think a lot hinges on what you mean by “valuable.” One metric I love but haven’t figured out how to implement yet is focusing on where trips begin: Operators love trip-based fees because it scales with their profit, and requiring trip-starts to be equitably distributed is a better indicator than the presence of scooters throughout the city [since] operators actually need to find ridership in the different areas.
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“We require geographical equity in distribution — a spread over the city and within specific zones. However, where the trips occur seems different to me; a low-income user may need a ride downtown. We’re looking at keeping requirements for distribution but trying to incentivize low-income plans more
.”

“We’ve had signups for reduced-fare plans as a major accountability metric, but one struggle has been that it’s entirely self-reported, so we don’t know how to verify.”

State of Shared Micromobility Breakout Activity: Each breakout room received a hypothetical scenario for participants to discuss and answer the listed questions, then they reported back to the larger group. 

  • Breakout Room #1: One of your scooter permit holders is merging with one of your bike permit holders.
  • Breakout Room #2: Your city is seeing large increases in shared micromobility ridership as people turn to bike/scooter share as a safer alternative to mass public transit.
  • Breakout Room #3: Your city is seeing large decreases in shared micromobility use/membership as those who can, opt to stay home and are weary of using any shared devices.  
  • Breakout Room #4: Your sole micromobility provider is leaving your city.
  • Breakout Room #5: Shared micromobility has remained in your city, but private and non-profit operators are requesting additional financial support from the city.

Questions:

  • What are your financial changes/considerations or next steps?
  • What are your operational changes/considerations or next steps?
  • What are your management/regulatory changes/considerations or next steps? 
  • What are your public messaging changes/considerations or next steps? 

Your turn: Try this with some of your colleagues! How would you continue to support your communities through these crises?

The rest of the roundtable schedule for June 16 included an afternoon coffee break, where participants were encouraged to take a breather from programming to meet up with friends in peer cities for open discussion on how NACTO can serve as a resource to member cities.

To stay up-to-date with this event, keep up with our daily blogs and follow the hashtag #2020BikeRoundtable on Twitter!

Done with Day 2? Keep up with our other recaps:

The Better Bike Share Partnership is a JPB Foundation-funded collaboration between the City of Philadelphia, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) and the PeopleForBikes Foundation to build equitable and replicable bike share systems. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or sign up for our weekly newsletter. Story tip? Write farrah@peopleforbikes.org.