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Shared-Use Mobility Center Sets 2030 ‘Action Agenda’

The Shared-Use Mobility Center is urging public, private and nonprofit groups to sign on to its Shared Mobility 2030 Action Agenda, which sets goals around expanding mobility options and transportation equity.

Seattle recently took over the faltering Pronto bike program.
(Facebook/Pronto Cycle Share)
A move to increase transportation options that do not include personal cars is gathering momentum across the United States as local municipalities, counties and other planning organizations enter into a pact to increase shared mobility options and infrastructure.

More than 50 public, private and nonprofit groups have signed on to the Shared Mobility 2030 Action Agenda, an initiative aimed at accelerating the development of more shared mobility options, like public transit, microtransit and micromobility operations.

Shared mobility is often viewed as a transportation imperative for expanding access to transportation, as well as an answer to combating the deepening climate crisis, given that the transportation sector is the single largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions.

The action agenda is driven by addressing the “current and forward-looking climate crisis challenge,” said Benjamin de la Peña, CEO of the Shared-Use Mobility Center (SUMC). The center is the chief organizer behind the 2030 Action Agenda.

The goal is to make shared mobility “more accessible, more affordable, more economical and sustainable, than having to drive your own car,” said de la Peña. “And that’s a fairly audacious goal.

“And unless we have that mission, we’re just going to bite around the edges of this,” he added.

In Boston, transportation officials are focused on expanding the city’s bike-share program, known as Bluebikes, and opportunities to electrify transportation more comprehensively, said Matt Warfield, a new-mobility planner in the Boston Transportation Department.

“We are also taking steps to encourage use of other shared services such as public transit, car-sharing and carpooling.” Warfield added, via email. “Rather than thinking just about individual modes, we're working to make shared mobility part of our larger transportation system to help make it possible for more people to embrace car-free or car-light living."

The process of developing the Shared Mobility Agenda, a living document serving as a sort of to-do list for advancing shared mobility infrastructure, policies and metrics for measuring outcomes, began about a year ago.

“It was, what do we need to do to make shared mobility much more available and really give people options,” said de la Peña.

The draft included actions that need to be applied across the industry, but could be adopted by any organization.

“It’s a living document in that what we want to do is continue to review it, and hopefully, as a to-do list, be able to check off certain things,” de la Peña explained.

The idea of using shared mobility to advance transportation equity goals resonates with Vincent Valdes, executive director of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, a metropolitan planning organization made up of 10 counties, and headquartered in Pittsburgh.

“Equity is one of those returns that we’re looking for. Because everyone needs to get to school. Everyone needs to get to a medical appointment. Everyone needs to get to work,” said Valdes, adding that mobility should be an “integrated network of modes that gets people to where they need to get to.”

The idea of creating a world with mobility options is a constant concept within the shared mobility agenda. But having more options means creating a space for those options to blossom. It’s why public policy around micromobility infrastructure is a guiding theme.

The document is not trying to set rigid standards around say, the components that go into a mobility hub, or the width of a bike lane, but does start to put forward the idea that these ingredients belong in any conversation around public infrastructure.

“The standard is, 'can we make it default, where you have to have these components?'” said de la Peña.

Also, the document aims to standardize metrics around how equity is measured.

“Every city comes up with its own system … so one city will say, X percent of your [micromobility] fleet needs to show up in these particular neighborhoods,” de la Peña offered as an example.

Another city may base equity plans on other metrics like a micromobility company’s subscriber base. “That’s not bad in itself. But as a system, it becomes every community is bespoke,” said de la Peña. “And the other thing is, now you can’t really compare which of these systems actually works.”

The agenda also calls for measuring equity outcomes, such as whether the shared-mobility approach employed by a city actually increases access to jobs, health care or education, concepts that resonate with planners like Valdes.

“I’m not so interested in how many people are riding a bus or not riding a bus,” said Valdes. “What I’m interested in is the efficacy of that trip for their need. If they are going to a medical appointment, did they get to their medical appointment in a good way and a way that was economically viable; a way that satisfied their need in a real sense?”
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.