Historically, vulnerable communities—those which include low-income households, people of color and anyone disadvantaged based upon ability, age or other factors—have repeatedly experienced inequitable shares of transportation benefits and a disproportionately higher share of negative transportation externalities.1
Research has frequently shown that lack of access to reliable and affordable mobility choices reduces access to employment2, education3 and healthcare4, thereby further exacerbating systemic inequities and reducing social mobility and the quality of life in historically underserved communities. A key responsibility for local governments or public agencies working with private mobility operators is to ensure any new mobility service is accessible and affordable to all without disproportionately impacting vulnerable communities.
Shared micromobility presents cities with an opportunity to increase and expand access (both directly and as first- and last-mile connectors to existing transit systems) but may also exacerbate inequalities if residents aren’t provided with awareness of or information regarding new services and how to use them, or these services are not affordable, accessible, reliable or physically available. Furthermore, as these services are not typically run by the public sector, the traditional tools cities have to ensure and measure equity-based outcomes generally are not present or, at minimum, must be rethought to reduce potential barriers to entry.
We call these equity-based outcomes Access to Necessities because they include those activities we believe to be necessities for all city residents. To help measure Access to Necessities, we have borrowed from and adapted Remix’s Mobility Brief: Micromobilityʻs opportunity to serve the underserved edges5. In this brief, Remix identified two key policy levers cities have at their disposal to shape operators’ involvement in increasing accessibility: Access to Platforms and Access to Vehicles. Access to Platforms is centered around measuring the ability for all residents, especially those in underserved communities, to access and understand how to use micromobility platforms, access timely and accurate vehicle availability information and the affordability of micromobility services. The second, Access to Vehicles measures how easy or difficult it is for residents to access available micromobility vehicles.
Lastly, to ensure the fair and just distribution of benefits and burdens in other policy areas, NUMO applied an equity lens when looking at other outcomes. To that end, NUMO has highlighted equity-based questions and metrics within other outcomes to provide cities with the ability to quickly determine if they are seeing disparate impacts and benefits across their community and meeting needs within underserved areas.
Fleming, Kelly, Social Equity Considerations in the New Age of Transportation: Electric, Automated, and Shared Mobility, Journal of Science Policy & Governance Vol. 13, Issue 1, October 2018Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren, The Impacts of Neighborhoods on Intergenerational Mobility I: Childhood Exposure Effects, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Volume 133, Issue 3, August 2018Urban Institute, Student Transportation and Educational Access, 2017Syed ST, Gerber BS, Sharp LK. Traveling towards disease: transportation barriers to health care access, J Community Health. 2013Rachel Zack, “Mobility Brief: Micromobilityʻs opportunity to serve the underserved edges“, Remix, October 2018
Micromobility & Your City is a digital tool for cities to evaluate micromobility services against policy goals that foster safe, sustainable and equitable communities for all.
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