Urban congestion and parking restrictions, in combination with the pandemic, have accelerated the use of scooters, bicycles, and e-bikes. Some agencies are providing or subsidizing an entirely new form of transportation that the historical definition of public transit may not have contemplated. The ability to move freely using small, lightweight vehicles is defined as micromobility.
As these and other new multimodal opportunities for mobility are supported by cities and public transit agencies, issues arise about accessibility, safety, regulation, jurisdiction, service quality, theft, insurance, liability, security, tracking, licensing, permitting, franchising, billing, maintenance, environmental justice, and compliance with civil rights laws.
A new form of transportation, micromobility raises novel issues. Some earlier projects were considered transit-adjacent or as station-area improvements, but more and more agencies (LA Metro, Cap Metro, KCATA, Dayton RTA) are offering agency-branded micromobility as an independent transportation service that is an extension of or integral to the transit system itself. As services get more dockless and less place-based, it is harder to argue that micromobility should be treated as akin to park-and-ride lots or bus shelters. For example, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has several micromobility programs, including ones that consider disability adaptability:
Research in this area is needed.
The objective of this research is to determine effective practices for transit agency support and use of micromobility modes to provide and support public transit. What legal issues and legal guidance should transit agencies and government sponsors consider in order to implement these micromobility modes effectively, equitably, and safely, in compliance with applicable laws?
Micromobility devices include bicycles, electric bicycles, electric scooters (including adaptive scooters and electric skateboards). Such devices may be shared through rental apps or docks. Microtransit providers may expect passengers to make their way to and from common pick-up or drop-off points, or may allow passengers to find and leave devices at public areas.
For purposes of this study, micromobility does not include freight transport.
STATUS: Research is in progress.