3 Reasons why Multi-modal Systems are Important for all Communities
Updated: Jun 22, 2021
There are many good reasons to integrate multi-modal options into a community micromobility program. As new modes and trends emerge in the industry, it’s important to be aware of the options available to communities, as some of those options may potentially be a better fit across the range of options that cities require and/or desire. It’s less about the vehicle type and more about addressing the specific needs that make a micromobility program as successful as possible within a community. At the end of the day, those communities and users decide their fleet mixes, rather than the system operators.
Service More Areas in your Community
Generally speaking, only having one mode of transportation doesn’t necessarily fit a rider’s needs. More options simply open up the door to create more use cases around a user’s trip length, trip purpose (i.e. recreational use, commuting, running errands, etc.), seasonal elements, and overall cost. It all comes down to providing the right options, in the right places, at the right time. E-scooters and e-bikes might be better suited to replace car trips in downtown areas, and regular pedal bikes might be better suited for riding in parks and along nature trails. Although municipalities may put analysis into what’s best for their community, they can’t always decide what’s best for users- you can provide them an array of options so that they can decide what’s best for themselves. Some people enjoy the leisure feeling of scooters over the effort of pedaling bikes.
Underserved communities are receiving opportunities to have reliable, low-cost options for commuting to work, school, and local businesses. Making sure your residents have convenient and reliable transportation is how a micromobility system should look, to ensure that it works for all who stand to benefit from it. Overall, each option should be able to complement the other by providing interchangeable options to get a user from point A to B and back.
Multiple options complement each other
As micromobility coverage continues to expand, it’s grown to become an important component of multi-modal options across cities. As time goes on, and even as trends come and go, e-bikes and e-scooters grow deeply embedded in their network of roles as primary, secondary, and complimentary options for users. With that being said, it’s important for multiple options to be available as the industry grows to maintain the reliability of a micromobility system to its users. An example of this would be a first or last mile trip, such as catching a bus ride that doesn’t take you all the way to your destination, then completing the remainder of that trip on a bike, or vice versa. Public transportation doesn’t take you exactly where you want to go, and walking isn’t a fast alternative.
According to McKinsey, public transit usage drops by up to 90% when passengers have to walk more than half a mile to the nearest transit stop, which gives cities two options: expand transport routes, which is generally costly and unrealistic (especially during the COVID-19 pandemic) or integrate micromobility as a way to bridge the gap.
The most successful micromobility systems tend to be the ones that maintain a strong relationship between the system operator and the city. Because most local system operators know their community better than the giant micromobility competitors (Bird, Lime, etc.), they’re better equipped to build a system from the ground up and uncover the exact needs of their users and plan accordingly. Those needs may include free or reduced rates for essential workers, reliable customer support, and implementing minuscule policies related to health goals.
Increased odds of sustainability and longevity
The micromobility space is continuing a surge of exponential growth, as more and more communities launch and/or expand programs. According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), from 2010-2016 there were 88 million trips taken on bike share systems across the US. In 2019 alone, people took 136 million trips. Over the past decade, a third of a billion trips were taken on shared bikes and scooters in the US.
Furthermore, these rides reduce short car trips and time-consuming trips taken on foot. NACTO also estimates that 35% of all car trips in the US are under 2 miles. In 2019, the average micromobility trip ranged from 11-12 minutes and only 1-1.5 miles. These micromobility systems not only alleviate carbon emissions, but they increase access to transportation in general.
This rate of growth also creates a foundation for long-term sustainability through an array of competitors. If a vendor leaves the city, for example, a competitor will likely take their place, continuing to give users a robust alternative to cars in one form or another.
The future might be unknown, but it’s a safe bet that micromobility of some form is here to stay. Cities primarily built to utilize car trips have finally begun implementing bike lanes and trails for users to not only ride safely but decide which route they want to take. Short trips in cities are fundamental, and these systems fill a very necessary gap, especially when there are additional options available to fill that gap by expanding the overall reach of transit and making entire cities more accessible.