Planning for Shared Mobility: Incorporating Shared Modes into the Public Rights-of-Way

In recent years, a variety of social and economic forces coupled with advancements in technology have quickly given rise to shared mobility. Shared mobility—the shared use of a vehicle, bicycle, or other low-speed travel mode—is an innovative transportation strategy that enables users to have short-term access to a mode of transportation on an as-needed basis. Technological, mobility, and societal trends are having a transformative effect on cities. The growth of cloud computing, location-based services, mobile technologies, big data, and advanced algorithms are enabling the commodification of passenger mobility. The growth of shared mobility has become part of a trend that has pushed it from the fringe to the mainstream.


Rights-of-way is a term used to describe the legal passage of people (and their means of transportation) along public and sometimes private property (the latter typically through licenses and easements). Allocating parking and curb space for the inclusion of shared mobility—such as carsharing parking; space for bikesharing kiosks; and loading zones for ridesourcing/transportation network companies, microtransit, and shuttles—is the most common way local governments provide access to public rights-of-way. A number of local governments and public agencies have developed policies covering a number of issues, such as:

– How a shared mode is defined;
– How rights-of-way should be allocated (e.g., loading zones, parking, etc.);
– How to fairly manage demand among multiple operators; and
– Methodologies for valuing and monetizing public rights-of-way.




The availability of rights-of-ways can have a profound impact on the growth and potential success of shared mobility in a city. Here’s how two Smart Cities (Seattle and San Francisco) manage the rights-of-way of four different shared modes:

San Francisco’s Employer Shuttles:

In January 2014, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) established a program enabling employer shuttle services to pay for legal loading zone use, if certain program guidelines are met. This policy was enacted in response to legal and illegal passenger loading and shuttle impacts on public transit performance. Shuttles are required to pay a fee and comply with municipal regulations to minimize their impacts on bus transit and other roadway users. As part of this program, shuttle operators apply for a permit to use the network and pay a permit fee based on the number of stops made at authorized locations. The permit fee covers the city’s costs for administering and enforcing the program. In addition, the program requires that shuttle operators phase-in cleaner shuttle fleets and provide real-time GPS tracking of shuttle fleets.


San Francisco’s Roundtrip Carsharing Parking:

SFMTA’s on-street carsharing parking program offers up to 900 parking spaces for roundtrip and peer-to-peer carsharing vehicles (e.g., Zipcar and Getaround, respectively). Although the program cleared 900 parking spaces, only 200 spaces were permitted between 2014 and 2016. Each organization participating in the program was eligible for 150 parking spaces (0.05 percent of the city’s total on-street parking supply). Locations were approved through an application process that included an engineering review, community outreach, and approval by the SFMTA board of directors. Monthly pricing per space varied between $50 and $225 and was based on three demand zones established by the city. Operators paid a one-time installation fee of $400 per space. Each approved carsharing vehicle received a special parking permit that exempted it from street sweeping, time limits, and other parking restrictions. Analysis of the pilot program found that on average each carsharing vehicle was used six hours a day by more than ten members monthly. In late-September 2017, SFMTA issued another call for participation requiring that the operators place a vehicle in at least eight of 11 of the city’s supervisorial districts and share data for ongoing program evaluation.


Seattle’s One-Way (Free Floating) Carsharing Parking:

In Seattle, the Department of Transportation (SDOT), issues permits allowing one-way carsharing operators to park on city streets without time limits, payment at meters, or limits in Restricted Parking Zones. A portion of the permit fee paid by the carsharing operator is applied to their paid parking. At the end of the year, carsharing operators pay for any additional paid parking that was used but not included in the initial permit fee. When Seattle’s policy was initially approved, each free-floating carsharing operator was allowed up to 500 free-floating carsharing permits or up to 750 free-floating carsharing permits with the establishment of a service area covering the entire City of Seattle. At present, SDOT does not cap the number of operator permits, although caps could be implemented in the future based on the department’s annual data collection and analysis.




Seattle’s Free-Floating Bikesharing:

In June 2017, Seattle announced a pilot policy to regulate free-floating (or dockless) bikesharing systems. Key provisions of Seattle’s policy include:

1) A minimum fleet of 500 bicycles not exceeding 340 bikes per square mile;
2) Bicycles can only be parked in the landscape/furniture zone of a sidewalk or to a SDOT bicycle rack;
3) Bicycles cannot be parked in a way that impedes pedestrian or vehicular traffic flow; and
4) Operators must correct an incorrectly parked bicycle within two hours between 6AM and 6PM.


Additional requirements include data sharing with the city, indemnification from liability, $3 million minimum liability insurance, and paying an annual license fee per bicycle.




In the future, the management of public rights-of-way will likely remain a popular topic of conversation. The increasing number of modes and service providers seeking access to parking and curb space is a trend that will continue. Public agencies will need to develop policies that fairly manage the rights-of-way demands for a variety of uses including: private parking; parking for carsharing; loading zones for private shuttles, for-hire vehicle services (ridesourcing and taxis), paratransit, microtransit, and public transportation; and bikesharing and bicycle infrastructure.


This article was co-authored with Adam Cohen.


Cohen and Shaheen authored the American Planning Association report Planning for Shared Mobility.



The world’s most densely populated cities are not its “most livable.” Can they be, and for how long?

It’s long been felt that urban density – a term used by city planners, politicians, economists, sociologists – has an inverse relationship with quality of life. As population and density rise, transportation problems multiply, and quality of life goes down. Right?




The world’s ten most densely populated large cities (more than 1 million in population) are all outside of the U.S.:

1. Manila (Philippines, 108,000 people per square mile)

2. Mumbai (India, 74,000)

3. Dhaka (Bangladesh, 73,600)

4. Cairo (Egypt, 67,000)

5. Chennai (India, 63,000)

6. Kolkata (India, 63,000)

7. Bandung (Indonesia, 48,000)

8. Quezon City (Philippines, 46,000)

9. Paris (France, 56,000)

10. Caloocan (Philippines, 73,000)


High density and transportation headaches are interconnected

Manila has long been considered the world’s most congested city (Forbes Magazine). And according to Waze’s Global Driver Satisfaction Index, with its notorious traffic jams and crippling density, Manila owns the honor of being the city with the world’s worst traffic. On the positive side, it was the first city in Southeast Asia to operate a public light rail system, which has a daily ridership of 700,000. Expansion of that system, along with several other transportation projects, is at the top of the city’s ‘Metro Manila Dream Plan,’ a long-term vision for mitigating the city’s transportation woes by the 2030s.


And looking beyond the top-ten density list, it’s apparent that the densest cities are clustered within countries throughout the developing world. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs predicts that by 2050 an unprecedented 66% of the world’s population will live in urban centers (compared to about 54% today). As the world continues to ‘urbanize,’ cities mostly in the developing world will continue to become denser and larger, and attract residents from lower-density outlying areas.


Cities urbanize and densify around employment opportunity. In the 20th and 21st centuries (so far), production and manufacturing of mass goods has required a critical mass of labor nearby. However, there’s evidence that as the 21st century progresses further, emerging digital technologies like 3-D printing will disrupt and ultimately render obsolete the need for mass labor.


High-density may be the opposite of high livability

Not surprisingly, none of the most densely-populated cities are within the World Economic Forum’s list of the world’s most innovative countries. And, none are within the WEF’s list of cities with the highest quality of life. These cities were among 450 worldwide ranked annually by Mercer, one of the world’s largest HR consultancies, on metrics ranging from political and social stability, crime and law enforcement, economics, medical and health considerations, education, availability of public services, infrastructure and amenities, recreation, housing, and more.
Here’s the top-10:

10. (Tie) Basel (Switzerland, 19,000 people per square mile), Sydney (Australia, 1,000)

9. Copenhagen (Denmark, 22,900)

8. Geneva (Switzerland, 32,000)

7. Frankfurt (Germany, 7,600)

6. Dusseldorf (Germany, 7,300)

5. Vancouver (Canada, 14,000)

4. Munich (Germany, 12,000)

3. Auckland (New Zealand, 6,900)

2. Zurich (Switzerland, 12,000)

1. Vienna (Austria, 11,205)




Each of the world’s most livable cities is a culturally vibrant economic powerhouse for its respective country. And, each one is in the density ‘Goldilocks zone.’ Vienna, Austria, with its mid-range density of 11,205 people per square mile has topped the list for seven consecutive years. Wow.


And each of these cities has invested heavily in modern transportation infrastructure, as one of the key factors contributing to a high degree of livability is ease of getting around. None are so-called ‘megacities’ (Manila, Mumbai, Kolkata), which are predicted to lose much of their economic cache during the 21st century, as digital technologies disrupt much of their reason for being.

In the U.S., where economists and politicians tend to equate population growth and density with economic vitality, the highest-density cities are also some of the biggest: New York, NY (27,000 people per square mile), San Francisco (17,000), Boston (12,800), Chicago (11,800) and Philadelphia (11,400). But population growth and density are not always concomitant with economic vitality.

Take for example, Chicago, whose population density is very similar to Vienna’s. Chicago is home to the nation’s worst traffic bottleneck, a 12-mile stretch of Interstate 90 that runs through the city. Chicago saw its population decline by about 210,000 (-7.2%) between the years 2000 and 2010. And during that time, while the city’s urban flight was comprised of mostly lower-income residents, Chicago’s downtown and close-in neighborhoods were booming with new well-educated denizens as the city became a renewed magnet for large corporate headquarters. The city’s economy was strengthening and the population was actually becoming more affluent, even as it was shrinking and declining in density.

Yet the congestion on I-90 has not abated. Perhaps with Chicago’s growing affluence will come greater investment in traffic-reducing infrastructure. Either that, or emerging technologies will ultimately render the city’s reason for existence obsolete.

Europe’s most mobile cities and the newest trend in mobility

Welcome to Move Forward’s weekly news wrap-up, featuring the mobility stories you don’t want to miss. This week we are sharing company coverage from Curbed and 2025 AD that emphasize moovel, and its employees, as key players in advancing urban transportation. We are also sharing news of Atlanta’s autonomous bus venture, a ranking of Europe’s most mobile cities, the newest trend in mobility, and more.


moovel Lab researcher shares transit tip:

Curbed features tips on how to fix the thorniest transportation problems from the publication’s “favorite urban thinkers” in “101 ways to improve transportation in your city”. Specifically, Joey Lee, research associate at moovel Lab provided Tip #32: “Show, don’t tell. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a prototype is worth 1,000 meetings.”

Curbed: “101 ways to improve transportation in your city” by Megan Barber, Patrick Sisson, Alissa Walker, September 20, 2017.


moovel as critical player in mobility space:

2025 AD reports from the frontlines of IAA 2017, spotlighting moovel as a critical player advancing trends in mobility. moovel’s Randolph Wörl is quoted saying, “With his smartphone, he can pick the optimal way to get from A to B. Does optimal mean the shortest way, the cheapest way or the most comfortable way? It’s the user’s choice.”

2025 AD: “Autonomous Driving is Waiting for Takeoff” by Staff, September 20, 2017.


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Atlanta launches autonomous bus:

Atlanta’s self-driving bus, Transdev EZ10, made its first series of trips last week. “The (self-driving) test on North Avenue in the city’s bustling Midtown area meant that Atlanta has become one of the largest urban areas to test autonomous vehicles, joining Sao Paulo and Shanghai”, reported ABC News.

Curbed Atlanta: “Autonomous bus makes inaugural Atlanta run—without catastrophe” by Michael Kahn, September 15, 2017.


Europe’s most mobile cities:

POLITICO’s European urban mobility index ranks the continent’s top 20 largest cities based on mobility, using five criteria covering different areas: air pollution, traffic congestion, cycling, and mass transit. This year, Helsinki is ranked first, followed by Copenhagen and Stockholm tied for second.

POLITICO: “POLITICO’s urban mobility index” by Joshua Posaner, Marion Solletty, Ginger Hervy, and Connor Murphy, September 17, 2017.





The smartest cities will include cycling:

The International Cycling Safety Conference will explore how data from vehicles, smart devices, sensors, and other objects in the urban landscape can work to aid the needs and safety of cyclists. As cities look towards becoming “smarter” cyclists and bike shares are key factors of city planning and urban mobility.

Government Technology: “Why Leading Smart Cities Are Often Bike-Friendly Cities” by Skip Descant, September 18, 2017.


The newest trend in mobility:

Cities across the country are working to redesign their bus systems to be more convenient for riders. As technology and changing demographics have lead to a steep decline in bus ridership, city governments are trying to reverse that trend by providing riders with better bus routes.

Government Technology: “Bus Network Redesigns Are the ‘Hottest Trend in Transit” by Dan Vock, September 18, 2017.


Planning for MaaS:

Local governments should plan for mass mobility changes in the near future as mobility-as-a-service solutions are predicted to grow across the country. Further, analysis by McKinsey predicts that “average-size cities could realize $600 million in annual societal benefits from mobility advances that reduce traffic accidents and their related injuries and fatalities” by 2030.

Efficient Gov: “Why All Local Governments Must Prepare for Mobility-as-a-Service” by Andrea Fox, September 18, 2017.




Bi-partisan bill encourages transit innovation:

Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) have introduced new legislation that would use competitive grants to encourage cities to develop better transportation systems. The bill is intended to spur the creation of innovative urban transit systems, similar to the Smart City Challenge.

Smart Cities Dive: “Senators introduce measure to spur transit innovationssss” by Kim Slowey, September 19, 2017.


P3 partnership shares data for safer transportation:

Ohio has entered a public private partnership in an effort to make the state’s transportation smarter and safer through data analytics. As part of a centralized contract, the P3 partnership will be available to the DOT, state departments and local governments to promote the idea of sharing data and information in a standardized way.

Government Technology: “Ohio Turns to Private Sector Data Analytics for Smarter, Safer Streets Transportation” by Ben Miller, September 21, 2017.

Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.

First autonomous shuttle in the US, officials future-proofing their cities, Australia’s “20-minute city” initiative, and the future of transportation

Welcome to Move Forward’s weekly news wrap-up, featuring the mobility stories you don’t want to miss. This week we’re featuring an analysis of the fastest and slowest commutes in the country’s largest cities, along with news of nation’s first autonomous shuttle system, a push for “20-minute cities” in Australia, and more.


De Blasio proposes new tax to raise funds for subway system:
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has proposed a new income tax on the city’s wealthiest people to help generate revenue for NYC’s ailing and overcrowded public transit system.
York Times: “London Uses Congestion Pricing. Why Doesn’t New York?” by Vikas Bajaj and Stuart A. Thompson, August 10, 2017.



How slow is your city?:
The Washington Post features an analysis of commute times and distances from leading cities across the U.S., in particular examining the impact of congestion and other factors. Cities with the slowest commute times include Boston, Washington D.C., New York, and Miami.
The Washington Post: “How Fast Can You Leave Town During Rush Hour?” by Sahil Chinoy, August 11, 2017.


Nation’s first autonomous shuttle to debut:
Arlington, Texas is launching what they believe is the nation’s first autonomous public shuttle network.  Starting on August 26, Milo, short for Mile Zero, will bring fans from remote parking lots to games at the AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Park.
Government Technology: “Arlington, Texas, to Launch ‘Nation’s First Autonomous Public Shuttle Network’” by Bill Hanna, August 11, 2017.


Cities look to “future proof” their streets:
Many experts have predicted that within the next 15 to 30 years, the digital world will influence transportation systems– from high-speed tunnels, to drones, and most importantly, autonomous vehicles. The implications of these innovations could extend deeply into the fabric of urban communities, and now public leaders are faced with the dilemma of “future proofing” their communities in preparation for disruption.
Governing: “Transportation and the Challenge of Future-Proofing Our Cities” by Bob Graves, August 14, 2017.



20-minute cities:
In Australia, there is a significant push in government for the adoption of the “20-minute city,” which seeks to set a maximum trip duration of 20 minutes for all modes of transportation. New research in Melbourne has found that so far, only 3% of public transit trips take less than 20 minutes, compared to 60% of trips by car.
Crickey: ”Can public transport define the 20-minute city?” by Alan Davies, August 16, 2017.


Fiat Chrysler joins BMW autonomous vehicle alliance:
A new partnership between BMW, Intel, Mobileye, and Fiat Chrysler will aim to produce an industry-wide autonomous car technology which other carmakers could adopt. This alliance is part of a new trend in the automotive world as industry leaders seek ways to share the high costs of developing autonomous technologies.
Reuters: “Fiat Chrysler joins BMW-Intel self-driving car alliance” by Alexandria Sage and Edward Taylor, August 16, 2017.


Uber considers selling U.S. car leasing business:
A report released earlier this week informed Uber’s executives that losses at Xchange Leasing were $9,000 per car on average. These numbers were far above the predicted estimates of around $500 per car, prompting conversations of selling the company.
Automotive News: “Uber considering sale of U.S. car-leasing business, report says” by Parikshit Mishra, August 16, 2017.




Industry leader discusses rapidly changing transit space:
Harriet Tregoning, former leading official at U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, discusses how cities should be planning and preparing their transportation infrastructure for the future.
Government Technology: How Cities Should Plan and Prepare Their Transportation Infrastructure for the Future” by Bob Graves, August 16, 2017.


Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.

Smart Cities and the Future of Transportation

Generations of ecologists, urban planners, and engineers have undoubtedly been influenced by the events that shaped their lives. Today, we are confronted with an infrastructure and economic challenge of epic proportions. Across the globe, our cities suffer from poor air quality and worsening congestion that strangles our roads and highways; wastes time and diminishes the savings and expendable income of families; and adversely impacts quality of life.

In recent years, technological, economic, and environmental forces have quickly given rise to “Smart Cities” – a collective of municipal public and private partnerships leveraging information and communications technology (ICT) to more intelligently and efficiently use resources with the goals of achieving energy and taxpayer savings, improving service delivery and quality of life, and reducing adverse environmental impacts – all supporting innovation, government efficiency, and environmental sustainability. While precise definitions of smart cities may vary, smart cities frequently use ICT to manage an ecosystem of civic resources including: transportation systems, telecommunications, utilities, health and human services, public safety, and other community services. In both Europe and the United States, the transport sector accounts for approximately one quarter of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The European Commission estimates that more than 70% of transportation GHG-related emissions come from roadway users.

In 2011, the European Commission launched the Smart Cities and Communities Initiative providing €365 million in funding for energy, transportation, and ICT innovations. This was followed by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge, announced in December 2015, which leveraged nearly $350 million in public and private funds for smart city and advanced transportation technologies. The Smart City Challenge generated 78 municipal visions for how technology could be used to overcome some of the United States’ most pressing urban transportation and environmental challenges. Together, these initiatives have pushed smart city visions from the fringe to the mainstream, as cities across the U.S. and European Union cultivate ideas for integrated, smart transportation systems that leverage data, applications, and technology to help transport people and goods. The role of transportation innovations in the broader discussion of Smart Cities has become a frequent topic of discussion.

Today, a number of cities across the globe are employing smart transportation innovations to respond to these challenges. A closer look at these innovations reveals marked differences in design, technology, and strategy. Here are six smart transportation innovations changing cities around the globe:

– Urban Transportation Takes Flight with Automated Aerial Vehicles (Dubai, United Arab Emirates) In Dubai, the Roads and Transport Authority and the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority will deploy the first autonomous aerial taxis later this year. Dubai’s pilot will be the first of its kind employing autonomous quadcopter passenger drones with aerial taxi service covering distances up to 1.6 km (10 miles/30 minutes of flying time) at speeds up to 100 km/h (60 mph) and altitudes up to 300 meters (approximately 1,000 feet). Numerous other vendors are developing prototypes and business models to provide aerial taxi services, including Airbus and Uber.

– Robotic Delivery (Austin, United States)
Around the globe, numerous cities are experimenting with autonomous delivery robots for take-out and small e-commerce deliveries. In August 2017, Austin, Texas became one of the first cities to develop a pilot program to regulate delivery robots. Under Austin’s ordinance, delivery robots must operate on sidewalks and pedestrian ways, must weigh 136kg (300lbs) or less, and operate no greater than 16/kmh (10/mph). Austin’s ordinance also mandates that delivery robots operate with a minimum of $1 million USD liability coverage that indemnifies the city.

– Drone Delivery (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
In November 2014, Amazon began testing same-day delivery using drones operating up to 80/kmh (50 mph) for up to 30 minutes of flight time delivering packages weighing up to 2.3kg (5lbs). The United Parcel Service (UPS) has also experimented with delivery drones, developing a prototype to launch a drone from the top of a delivery truck that allows the driver to make two simultaneous deliveries.

– Smart Streetcar Corridor (Kansas City, United States)
In Kansas City, Missouri, the city has opened a 3.5 km (2.2 mile) “smart” streetcar corridor including: public WiFi, smart lighting, cameras, sensors, and digital information kiosks. Sensors along the route collect data from lights, traffic signals, pavement, and water pipes to more efficiently manage traffic and the delivery of other municipal services, such as snow removal. In April 2015, Kansas City’s city council passed a resolution in support of data privacy and instructing the city’s manager to implement data privacy measures. Kansas City is one example of a local government employing smart city innovations coupled with policies recognizing the sensitivity of data and the importance of data security, privacy, and de-identification.

– Autonomous Electric Shuttle Pilot (Paris, France)
Last month, Ile-de-France Mobilités in partnership with Keolis and Navya launched a six-month pilot deploying three fully autonomous electric shuttles in La Défense, a central business district with 180,000 daily workers on the western side of Paris (just outside the city limits). Each shuttle can carry 15 passengers (11 seated and 4 standing), operating with 10-minute headways during peak periods and 20-minute headways during off-peak times. Paris represents one example of how autonomous electric shuttles are being actively tested, which could soon reshape public transportation.

– Uber’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (San Francisco, United States)
In December 2016, the ridesourcing app Uber acquired Geometric Intelligence to create an artificial intelligence laboratory at its San Francisco headquarters. In transportation, artificial intelligence and machine learning have the opportunity to deliver predictive data analysis capability, such as forecasting supply and demand and relocating transportation assets real-time to quickly identify and respond to service gaps and disruptions. Artificial intelligence can also be used to predict a user’s travel behavior and offer recommendations. For example, Google Now allows users to set location- and time-based reminders (e.g., reminding a user to make a purchase when they are near a retailer). In the future, artificial intelligence and machine learning may be able to preposition transportation modes (e.g., automated taxis) by linking to a user’s calendars or learning a user’s routine travel behavior.

The increasing availability, capability, and affordability of intelligent transportation systems, global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), wireless, and cloud technologies are reshaping the way people travel, and consume goods and services. Together this suite of automated and autonomous passenger and goods deliver innovations will have a transformative effect on cities around the globe. While the full impact of these technologies is only just beginning to be recognized, these six Smart City innovations could be among the biggest game changers for passenger mobility and last mile delivery over the next five years.


Written by Susan Shaheen and Adam Cohen

Susan Shaheen is an internationally recognized expert in shared mobility. She is also actively involved in researching automated vehicles and alternative fuel vehicles. She is an adjunct professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering and Co-Director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California (UC), Berkeley.

Adam Cohen is a shared mobility researcher at TSRC, UC Berkeley. Since joining the group in 2004, his research has focused on innovative urban mobility solutions, including shared mobility, Smart Cities technologies, smartphone apps, and other emerging technologies.

Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.