Shared & Equitable Micromobility in California

In this research, Jouke Ype Ruud Peutz analyzed how California’s government agencies may better assist the coordination and standardization of shared micromobility services run by private sector companies to better serve our marginalized communities. Previous work has found that shared micromobility services will not aid any disadvantaged community in a meaningful way without structural changes to our large-scale housing issues and integration of micromobility systems to other (mass) transit services on a state and/or regional, in contrast to local, scale. Through the literature analysis, he identified micromobility research themes.

Peutz then conducted semi-structured confidential interviews with 10 expert observers in both public and private sectors on the record (transcripts attached) and several more off the record (transcripts not provided) and used the literature themes to analyze and compare the interview material. Interviewees overall strongly believed that both urban planners and shared micromobility operators should develop long-term plans with government agencies to better incorporate micromobility services in our built environment. Representatives of both government agencies and operators expressed concerns about the “here today and gone tomorrow” culture of these companies. Interviewees on the operational side believed that without designated operational zones or changes in funding structures,9 they will be unable to make long-term guarantees or investments in communities.

Peutz concludes that regional transportation planning agencies, or Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), need to play a much larger role in the development of shared micromobility in California. I found interviewees were open to pivoting these services towards a true type of “public” transportation service. This might mean, for example, the operators could be ceding control to the government in exchange for guarantees of contracts and funding and ending current practices under which, as an example, municipalities may make only short-term commitments of as little as one year, with operators essentially asked to perform ongoing public services. Lastly, although micromobility services may currently be explored by different agencies and (local) governments, there are no clear policies that explicitly combine housing (or land-use), equity, and shared micromobility services. Based on the findings, he argues it is essential to have the state and MPOs develop policies to influence long-term decision-making on local housing, land-use, and alternatives to driving, which would support shared micromobility services. Most important to note is that this has the potential to benefit disadvantaged communities.