By: Chris Sandvig | April 20, 2023

Like many in the mobility space, we’ve been thinking a lot about micromobility as of late. The claim is that, whether you’re commuting, running errands, or simply visiting friends or exploring your city, micromobility can help you get where you need to go quickly and efficiently, while also reducing congestion and improving air quality. But, particularly with e-scooters, is this actually happening?

Mobilify’s most recent policy brief delves into Move PGH and four other cities’ e-scooter pilots. We found that for some, including able-bodied low/moderate-income residents, e-scooters are beneficial. For many others, not so much. For still more, particularly for persons with disabilities, they’re exacerbating existing physical barriers and personal safety risks that they must navigate daily. Can better policy and practice resolve these shortcomings and fulfill the promise? Or is micromobility doomed in the United States due to scooter debacles?

The transportation establishment and its political supporters seem unendingly enamored with the scene’s newest transpo tech. Power struggles and backlash immediately erupt as tech races to market, often disregarding negative human consequences. Quality data, for truly informed decisionmaking, is rarely if ever available. This distracts everyone from fixing the long-broken, tried-and-true, ways to universal, accessible, equitable mobility – walking, biking, transit. Micromobility has fallen prey to this, as will whatever comes next without a new approach.

We must stop this cycle. We must step back, get more quantitative and inclusive not just in engagement, but involvement and accommodation, for that to happen. Or we can continue as we have, allowing “for” and “against” sentiment divide those that should be allies, creating distractions that allows our highly inequitable, highly unsustainable status quo to continue to thrive. The choice is ours.

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