The promise of the new urban mobility is the ubiquitous availability of affordable, lightweight, and low-impact transportation devices for short trips. Shared bikes, e-bikes, scooters, and whatever-is-next present an unprecedented opportunity to transform urban transportation by replacing cars for most short trips.
But this opportunity has existed with bikes for a century already; is this time really different? The profit motive of automobile companies propelled the dominance of cars in our cities a century ago; will the profit motive of the micromobility companies propel the success of micromobility this time around? Does it matter that Lyft and Uber own the country’s largest bike share operators? Can public institutions leverage this moment to ensure access and inclusion for everyone, instead of enhanced mobility for the advantaged and reduced service for the rest of us?
Lime scooter; photo by Ian Sane, Flickr