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  • Writer's pictureAmy Thomson

Getting More People on Bikes and Scooters: Micromobility Can Be for Everyone

Brightly painted shared bikes and scooters started popping up everywhere ten years ago. For the climate and for the transportation network, they’ve mostly been a good thing: People love to use these low- or zero-emission rolling options to connect home to transit stops and to work. And yet, shared bikes and scooters are not as equitable or ubiquitous as they could be.

That’s a problem. Too often, shared bikes and scooters aren’t affordable to the region’s most vulnerable residents and they aren’t always available in the communities where they are needed the most. TransForm’s new report, Shared Mobility: How Shared Bikes and Scooters Can Support an Equitable, Climate-Friendly Transportation Network, clearly shows why expanding access to these micromobility options matters.

Getting Around Safely, Polluting Less

To many people, a bike or scooter can mean the difference between getting to work or missing connections. “You need multiple plans in case one fails,” an East Oakland resident said. And as the climate crisis heats up and extreme weather impacts transportation, shared bikes and scooters can help people reach essential destinations in an emergency.

It’s well known that riding a bike or scooter is one of the most environmentally friendly ways to get places. And more people are making the switch. According to a 2019 study, 41% of Oaklanders drive alone less and 55% use ride-hailing less since the introduction of shared e-scooters. Driving less has the added benefit of reducing pollution, which particularly benefits low-income people who often experience the worst air quality.

Our streets have to be safer, too, and that means more than just adding bike lanes. Black and Brown people experience more harassment, traffic, and police violence. Solutions should be found in conversation with impacted communities, so that riding bikes and scooters is a safe and comfortable option. We also need to conduct more research on how micromobility can be adapted to support riders with disabilities, as well as sharing the road with folks living with disabilities.

How do we improve access to shared bikes and scooters?

It will take creativity, investment, and advocacy to fully integrate micromobility into regional transportation planning. A big part of that is making the shared bikes and scooters easy to use, affordable, and plentiful beyond downtowns.

We researched pilot programs from other cities for inspiration and recommend the following.

  • Discounts: Free transfers between transit and bikeshare would encourage more people to try biking, according to researchers in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Brooklyn.

  • Partnerships: In Los Angeles, LA Metro sets bike rental fares because they pay private operators a fee for service, which gives them control over price and allows them to prioritize affordability.

  • Infrastructure: When Portland added a bike lane in a neighborhood with historical underinvestment, scooter ridership increased 125 percent. Connections: In Mexico City, riders can use their transit card to access shared bikes and tap onto transit lines.

Want to learn more?

Read TransForm’s new report, Shared Mobility: How Shared Bikes and Scooters Can Support an Equitable, Climate-Friendly Transportation Network. It’s packed full of great examples of how to find creative funding, offer varied payment options, and add infrastructure to make riding bikes and scooters more equitable and available.


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