Shifting the system — using new mobility as a tool for community goals - GreenBiz

While managing land use, transportation, economic development, air quality, environmental sustainability, equity and health through distinct departments may be necessary and even beneficial (as many cities creating new departments of transportation are noting), the issues themselves are not disparate. In fact, most city values require coordination and collaboration between and amongst various stakeholders across internal departments and external groups. Traditionally, such collaboration has proven challenging for a variety of reasons, including differing mission statements, misaligned timelines and variations in processes. But increasingly, new mobility options are presenting an opportunity and a catalyst for cities to collaborate, internally and externally, and integrate silos in various areas.

Just one year ago, electric scooters were a fringe concept, seen as a fad by many. Their proliferation and popularity demonstrates a reality that seems simple, but has been difficult to digest in the transportation world. Mobility options are popping up and evolving faster than the public sector can accommodate. But new mobility options, such as electric scooters, dock-less bike shares, micro-transit and driver-less vehicles, also present a perfect catalyst for communities to re-examine their systems and align their values.

Just how can that happen? How can communities prepare for an uncertain future and ensure the ever-changing mobility landscape promotes positive outcomes for their residents and visitors? Determining objectives, engaging with public and private partners, conducting scenario planning and establishing evaluation frameworks and metrics have helped some cities align their goals with new mobility options.

Begin with values and objectives

Recently, California released its Automated Vehicle Principles for Healthy and Sustainable Communities, setting clear objectives for deployment of automated vehicles in the state. Defining the overall goals of a mobility system early lays the essential foundation for planning, policy, regulation and evaluation as new modes emerge. The San Francisco County Transportation Authority’s (SFCTA) Emerging Mobility Guiding Principles demonstrate the breadth of policy arenas affected by new mobility, and how local governments can provide guidance for various agencies as they engage with mobility services.

Use data and metrics to evaluate progress

Establishing a framework for measurement and evaluation of success will increase transparency and allow for flexibility in a quickly changing system. SFCTA’s Emerging Mobility Evaluation Report builds on the region’s established principles by identifying metrics for measuring progress toward stated goals.

Early designation of potential metrics can help identify what data will be needed to conduct performance evaluations and build data requirements into partnerships, permits and policies. Private mobility providers collect trip data capable of helping public agencies plan better services and investment in communities. Automated vehicles will increase the amount of data generated immensely as they deploy onto city streets.

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