Toward a Vocabulary of Micromobility

All these newfangled devices and no universal nomenclature.

1 minute read

January 23, 2020, 12:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Bike Share Electric Scooters

Sundry Photography / Shutterstock

Leila Hawa, Annie Chang, and John MacArthur address an ongoing challenge facing planners and public officials trying to get a grasp on emerging transportation modes, such as electric scooters, electric bikes, hoverboards, and more.

At this stage, decision-makers are still working to understand the impacts of micromobility and how to incorporate it into the fabric of cities. Confusion about how to classify these new vehicles and services and what to call them is contributing to vague regulations or a total lack thereof.

An international organization has stepped into to bring some rationality to the subject:

To address this challenge, SAE International, an international standards organization for mobility engineering, has established a common set of terminologies for describing micromobility vehicles, called 'J3194 – Taxonomy and Classification of Powered Micromobility.'"

According to the article, the J3194 taxonomy both captures the current state of micromobility and to accommodate future innovations in the field. A graphic summary of the SAE J3194 standard are included in the article.

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