This is a guest post by Rachel Zack, Policy Strategist at Remix.
Since Remix was founded, one of the most important questions we’ve asked is: “What problems can we help solve?” Answers to that question have always come from close communication with cities and transit agencies, helping us understand the complex challenges across transportation. We focused on local government’s approach to managing and regulating shared electric scooters and bikes through local policies and permits. Read on for highlights, recommendations, and to review our online database of city policies.
Micromobility providers are charting a swift course across the U.S., bringing with them small, affordable, and sustainable mobility options, as well as questions for city officials around the safe and equitable deployment of these programs. The Remix team reviewed 17 cities’ dockless e-scooter and bikeshare policies to identify emerging best practices and themes. Four key ‘practice’ areas emerged from our research: enforcement, fees, caps, and data sharing. Here is what we found:
- Nearly all cities surveyed are focused on addressing parking, vehicle maintenance, and service areas.
- By tying fees to daily vehicles available, or trips taken, nearly 25% of the cities surveyed chose to administer a dynamic fee that would grow (and shrink) alongside the program. Some of these fees are being used to create infrastructure that benefit the program.
- 70% of the cities surveyed asked for real-time reporting data from providers, and 11% asked for that information using a data standard. Data specifications in this space are fairly new. We expect this number to grow over time, and already observed several more cities outside of our survey request data in a standardized format.
- We are starting to see policymakers set clear performance criteria for vendor fleet expansion; 47% of the cities surveyed utilized this approach to guide their program’s expansion.
Below is a summary chart of our findings; a dot signifies that the policy held language related the column topic.
This chart represents the status of policies in November of 2018. These are subject to change.
Policies focused on three main enforcement topics to ensure rider and pedestrian safety: vehicle parking, service areas, and maintenance.
City requirements by enforcement topic area
The cities that we felt were best setup for success were those who set unambiguous guidelines and consequences for program activity, so they were enforceable with a simple digital infrastructure. These cities are able to geofence equity areas to enforce distribution requirements, for example, or easily pull reports on state-of-repair.
Micromobility providers’ storefront is the public right-of-way, requiring additional city resources to be put toward managing that shared space. Fees allow cities to recover costs related to this financial impact, and in some cases, capture revenue to invest in better infrastructure for safe vehicle operation. The survey illuminated a wide range in the estimated amount of potential fee revenue. We estimated that eight cities could generate between $10–100k in annual revenue given their fee structure, five between $100–1M, and three programs could generate an estimated 1M+. The range in revenue stemmed from different program sizes, and different approaches to program cost estimates and fee administration. Some cities tied fees to vehicles per day, or trips, which would scale with the program.
Potential revenue based on proposed city micromobility fees
Caps, or an upper limit on the number of vendors and/or devices, was common across the 17 cities studied. Of cities who established fleet caps, some also provided a clear path to increased fleet size by establishing utilization thresholds as a guide to balance supply and demand, and performance measures to encourage outstanding service for their communities. There was no correlation between fleet cap size and city size. Only three cities chose to allow the supply of devices to reach the point of less than 100 persons per micromobility vehicle deployed. Two cities restricted supply to the extent of thousands of people per vehicle deployed.
Just shy of half the cities in our survey have vehicle caps in the “Hundreds”
The 17 cities reviewed show an increasing awareness for laying the digital infrastructure necessary to actively manage emerging mobility. Specifications, such as the General Bikeshare Feed Specification (GBFS) and the new Mobility Data Specification (MDS) have emerged, helping cities request standardized data (here’s more on both). Additionally, cities are starting to request real-time data, versus a static report format, allowing them more freedom to pull data as frequently as needed. Most of the cities reviewed requested real-time data, and two cities are taking a step further toward increased usability by requesting reports in a standardized format.
The Remix team defined “standardized” as policies that requested information, beyond displaying availability data, in a standardized format. We recommend further standardization moving forward.
What your city can consider today:
- Set clear rules around vehicle parking, service areas and vehicle maintenance.
- Consider establishing modest per-trip fees to pay for program management, enforcement and broader mobility goals such as safer streets, equity and designated parking. Fees to promote safer streets for vulnerable road users and to establish clear parking areas can help lay the groundwork for a thriving, well-integrated multimodal future.
- Establish performance caps. Implementing a utilization threshold can achieve a balance of supply and demand more flexibly than a “best guess” flat cap. Additionally, tie performance to opportunity to expand to encourage delivery on other key program goals.
- Require digital reporting infrastructure that allows for effective management and oversight of your program, as well as future planning efforts, such as building bike lanes or placing street furniture to improve program success.
- Requiring MDS, a standardized, real-time format, is ideal, as that it is the only standard available that enables a line of digital communication between vendors and the city, and gives cities both current and historical trip insights, and device availability data.
Want to learn more?
- Download the full report
- Check-out our Micromobility Policy Database (beta)
- Contact our Policy Team for additional insights and recommendations
Remix is the first platform that brings together the entire transportation picture. 300+ cities worldwide trust Remix to understand how public transit, streets, and new mobility work together. Remix.com
About the Author: Rachel Zack, Policy Strategist at Remix, is a shared mobility expert. Rachel comes to the Remix team after spending many years consulting with agencies across the country on new mobility strategy and policy. For the last five years, she has occupied a unique space between policy and operations, helping agencies launch new mobility pilots and investigate possibilities around road user charging, shared mobility, and autonomous vehicles. She brings this expertise to Remix to help cities develop long-term policies that support cities overarching safety, equity, and sustainability goals.