This article prefaces a discussion paper published by POLIS that calls for city leadership to put in place a proactive framework for micromobility rather than treating like a “hot potato”.

                      28 Nov. 2019

Polis releases discussion paper on micromobility

The document, titled “Macro managing micromobility”, was launched on 27 November during opening plenary of the Polis Conference 2019.

During the opening plenary session on the trends that are shaping the city of tomorrow, a new discussion paper on micromobility was released. Karen Vancluysen, Polis Secretary General, said: “With this paper, we are taking the long view on short trips. It brings together the issues that emerged in the numerous conversations we had with our members and the industry over the past year. This is a paper to continue the discussion on a hot topic, to feed and frame that discussion, to help focus and further the dialogue in a solutions-driven way.”

Taking the long view on short trips.

Shared micromobility is a hot topic. For many cities, it has been more of a ‘hot potato’, as the ‘invasion’ of e-scooters and e-bikes triggered a public outcry, inflamed debates in the media and put mayors, deputy mayors, and transportation officials on the spot: “Do something!”.

The problem with reactive approaches is that they often miss strategic opportunities. And the strategic potential of shared micromobility is clearly what came out of the intense dialogue we have been conducting on this topic, for over a year, with many cities and regions, with the major players in this industry, and with many other relevant stakeholders, from pedestrian and cycling advocates to public transport operators and innovation & disruption experts, among others.

This dialogue has been enhanced by the active participation of several members of POLIS’ working groups on Governance & Integration, Health & Active Travel, and Road Safety & Security, in countless conferences, workshops and meetings.

New studies, reports and guidelines have been coming out regularly, along with a steady stream of news and editorials. It has become a crowded debate, polarised by technological break-throughs and regulatory crackdowns. Interesting, for sure, but how helpful for cities, really? Dialogue on these topics must empower cities to work for the long-term public interest, instead of being rich in jargon and poor in purpose.

As a network of cities and regions dedicated to transport innovation, it’s our duty to go beyond the media frenzy. We clearly need a constructive framework to stimulate strategic dialogue and cooperation among all parties – that’s the only way of shaping win-win solutions.

Read the full discussion paper here.

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