Micromobility Growing in Smaller Cities

Shared mobility services are proliferating in small towns and cities, despite the regulatory hiccups operators have been experiencing in larger markets.

2 minute read

June 13, 2022, 11:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Bike Share Electric Scooters

Sundry Photography / Shutterstock

“In recent months, shared micromobility companies like Bird, Lime and Lyft have rapidly expanded their products in small and midsized markets with populations ranging from 2,500 to over 150,000,” reports Austyn Gaffney in Smart Cities Dive. Despite the backlash to micromobility from some community groups concerned about safety and parking, industry stalwart Bird “grew from about 250 global markets last year to more than 400 this spring.”

“Cities have been amenable to micromobility options like e-bikes and e-scooters over the last five years as ways to increase residents’ and visitors’ transportation options, ease congestion, and reduce transportation emissions, which represent over a quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.” Meanwhile, operators continue to implement speed limiters, geofencing, and other features to address cities’ concerns. “Chris Cherry, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, whose research focuses on micromobility options emerging in the transportation sector, said that when he hears concerns over sidewalk clutter, he asks those issuing the complaint to consider the amount of parked cars across urban environments, and to note the historic buildings demolished to make way for parking lots.”

Pointing to fears about the safety of scooters, Cherry points out that the devices are held to much higher standards than cars, which pose a much greater danger to their passengers and pedestrians. Cherry notes that “while 80% of scooter users killed during rides were hit by cars, there is ‘vanishingly small evidence’ that pedestrian injuries are caused by scooters.”

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