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Regional Agencies Are Best Poised to Manage Micromobility

Regional government organizations in Sacramento, Calif., and Denver have taken an oversight and data collection role around micromobility operations, showing that they are well positioned to navigate these planning efforts.

Aerial view of the city of Sacramento.
Sacramento, Calif.
Regional government agencies are often best equipped to serve as the oversight organization for micromobility programs, according to the experts.

Cities are often overwhelmed with managing the day-to-day operations of micromobility systems, and are often unequipped to take on the kind of research and analysis into best practices, said Sabrina Bradbury, a senior program manager at the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG).

A regional organization can take on these tasks and then bring the information to all partners, she added.

“There’s also a value to providing a seamless user experience,” said Bradbury in comments during a May 4 webinar organized by Urbanism Next, a mobility planning think tank at the University of Oregon.

A regional organization can also help to streamline the procurement process, and aid in the expansion of the micromobility network into some of the more suburban jurisdictions.

In Colorado, the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) has also taken on the role of serving as a form of oversight agency for micromobility deployments. DRCOG doesn’t manage the micromobility programs in the area, but does play a large role in data sharing.

“We realized, we need to have a more shared way to talk about this,” said Emily Lindsey, AICP with the operations, planning and transportation division of DRCOG, which covers 58 member local jurisdictions in the Denver metro region.

Usage data has been at the top of the list of what member cities want to see from micromobility operations, said Lindsey.

Micromobility — generally thought of as shared bikes and scooters, as well as personal bikes and scooters — has taken a leading role as one of the newest forms of transportation in cities, providing millions of trips. The devices are often viewed as part of the solution to close first- and last-mile transit gaps as well as take the place of car trips.

The Denver region has seen about 10 million micromobility trips, replacing about three million taxi, ride-hailing and personal car trips, in the last couple of years, said Lindsey. The same trend has been seen in the Sacramento region, said Bradbury.

By taking the lead on data collection and analysis, as well as negotiating procurement and other agreements with bike and scooter operators, regional organizations can ensure larger regionwide transportation and equity goals are reached — particularly because transit and transportation systems generally span across the metro area.

In Sacramento, SACOG worked with Sacramento Regional Transit (SacRT) to locate e-bike docking stations at light rail transit stations. The docking stations served as recharging locations for Jump Bikes, and have since given way to newer models that are not compatible with the docking stations.

“So again, it was just the market continuing to evolve and change,” said Bradbury.

Data collected at the regional level is also shining a light on how the devices are used, which gives policymakers more information related to distribution locations, fleet makeup and other details.

Data has shown “scooters are providing a different use case, and providing an option for users who don’t necessarily want bikes,” said Bradbury, who advocates for providing a range of mobility options to maximize trends to reduce car trips.

“Sit-down scooters have come out, and I’m sure there’s going to be more innovation in this space,” she added. “So how do we make sure that we’re providing as many options to people to allow the opportunity to drive less.”
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.