It’s helpful for mobility managers to understand not only where things stand now, but where they’re going in the near and distant future. There are a growing number of tools that can assist mobility managers in both their daily work and future preparations.
Seattle recently developed an interactive mapping tool which residents can use to provide feedback on development plans. Employing interactive tools can give both decision makers and community members the opportunity to provide insights into the implications of various projects while also informing the overall prioritization process for local projects. Introducing similar methods of community engagement to mobility management programs could have a similar substantial impact.
There is also a growing trend of communities collecting data from apps such as Strava and Ride Report, as well as from dockless bikeshare providers in cities like Washington, D.C., to better understand how people move around on foot and by bike. These apps offer troves of information that mobility managers could use to work with community leaders to target their programming and increase equity across systems.
Data can also help mobility managers tell the story of why their programs are so important. Articles like this from Alexandria, Minnesota, show how tracking important indicators builds an argument for supporting mobility services. Best of all, this tactic seems to be gaining momentum and therefore building public support for funding mobility-focused options.
Mobility managers should also be aware of the reality of perceived changes compared to reiterations of existing programs. The concept of microtransit has been hailed by tech companies as the future of mobility, but the few that are actually successful resemble traditional dial-a-ride services. Much like Uber and Lyft introducing services that are essentially bus routes in cars, it can help to be cautious whenever someone claims to “reinvent” a service.
Understanding people’s behavior across mobility options should be an important influence in how community leaders develop new products and programs. With that in mind, larger cities have seen a rapid influx of “little vehicles,” non-car mobility devices from bikes to hoverboards and other non-traditional machines. As the niche products flourish, it seems that people are actually reconsidering their dependence on cars, and the trend seems likely to accelerate.
This article from City Observatory introduces an important approach to mobility management – envisioning what we want from our communities and how people interact with each other as well as their environment. Keeping this big-picture perspective in mind as decision makers consider their options is vital to improving mobility for all community members.