Women in Shared Mobility: Discussing Policies with Shared Mobility Experts

This month for our Women in Shared Mobility series, we turned to some thought-provoking, pivotal questions in the realm of policies for shared mobility around the globe. We spoke with three experts on the subject, and are very honoured to have gotten the opportunity to hear the thoughts and insights from our interviewees this month. Did you miss the last Women in Shared Mobility series on autonomous vehicles? You can watch/read the interviews here.



Caroline Cerfontaine, Senior Manager at UITP, the International Association of Public Transport

UITP- caroline-Cerfontaine Women in Shared Mobility

What policies do we need in order to make shared mobility solutions more successful?

As a first step wrong incentives that prevent shared mobility solutions to be really attractive to car drivers, such as free parking or subsidized company cars need to be given up.

As a second step the integration of urban planning and sustainable mobility policies should be a priority as this has a huge impact on citizen’s mobility behaviour. Of course awareness raising measures about shared mobility and tax incentives for shared vehicle use should also be promoted.

How do we foster safe innovation through policy, especially when Autonomous Vehicles are introduced to our cities?

Any new mobility service should be evaluated against modal split objectives and ensure a better quality of urban life before being supported, which is why it is crucial public authorities take an active role in the roll out of AVs so that they meet policy objectives.

Autonomous vehicles will only help to meet public policy goals if they come as shared fleets integrated with public transport, but shared mobility options are still small. In order to prepare citizens, encouraging shared mobility now will pave the way for the shared use of AVs in the future.

What policy change would you like to see to create a more inclusive mobility solution in your city, inclusive in the sense of social equity?

The ability to access – in the spatial sense – jobs, education, health services, and other facilities is a key factor of social inclusion.

Barriers to spatial mobility include problems of awareness, availability, physical accessibility, and affordability. If sustainable mobility options such as public transport, cycling and shared mobility were recognized more in the role they plays towards the achievement of a more inclusive society, they would be better included in social inclusion policies and benefit from larger support.

Caroline Cerfontaine joined UITP, the International Association of Public Transport, in 2006. As Senior Manager she is the UITP expert for combined mobility and autonomous vehicles. She manages the UITP Combined Mobility Commission that brings together international mobility experts and looks at how to develop synergies between public transport and other sustainable mobility services such as car-sharing, cycling, bike-sharing, taxis, ride-sharing, ride-hailing etc. with the aim of providing better mobility options for citizens and offer them a real alternative to the private car. She is also in charge of the UITP SPACE (Shared Personalised Auntonomous Connected vEhicles) project on the integration of fleets of shared AV’s into public transport. Connect with Caroline here.

Rebecca Karbaumer, Sustainable Mobility Project coordinator at city of bremen

Rebecca Karbaumer Women in Shared Mobility

What policies do we need in order to make shared mobility solutions more successful?

Before even beginning to develop a policy – be it on a transnational, national or local level – it’s important that policy makers have a sound understanding of the different kinds of shared mobility services and the varying impact they can have on the transportation system and peoples’ mobility behaviour.

What is also absolutely essential is that policy makers have a fundamental understanding of what makes a (shared) mobility service attractive for the end user and that policy makers at least possess a basic understanding of the market forces driving the development and operation of shared mobility services.

As a sustainable mobility planner for a municipality who deals mainly with carsharing, I obviously have a very urban- and carsharing-centric view of policies but that doesn’t necessarily mean that some of the following aspects cannot be applied to policies in a rural or national setting or other forms of shared mobility.

So, that said, we need policies that create space for shared mobility, be they transport, urban development or economic policies:

  • First, on a theoretical level in which goals for shared mobility are defined.  The City of Bremen, for example, did this in 2009 in passing its Car-Sharing Action Plan, in which the City recognised the positive contribution that car-sharing could have on the City’s climate goals and need to reduce the number of privately owned cars in the city. In the Action Plan, Bremen defined the goal of having 20,000 car-sharing users in Bremen and replacing 6,000 privately-owned cars by the year 2020. These same goals are reflected in Bremen’s Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan. These policies need to define how these goals will be achieved on this theoretical level.  Bremen’s Car-Sharing Action Plan, for example, lays out a strategy to link car-sharing to public transport, integrate it into new housing developments (which allows a targeting of people at transition moments in their life when they’re most likely to change their mobility behaviour) as well as a communication strategy. 
  • Second, on a physical level where shared mobility services become more visible and accessible. The City of Bremen has been creating space for car-sharing on public street space with its mobil.punkte for the last 15 years.  While the mobil.punkte are not the only car-sharing stations in Bremen (they only make up roughly one-third of the overall number of stations), they send a clear message that the City (and involved stakeholders) recognise the public service that shared mobility provides and the mobil.punkte significantly improve the visibility of the services. The mobil.punkte also link other important modes of transport that make it easy to switch between walking, cycling and transport when getting to and from the larger stations. The small mobil.punkte located in the neighbourhood streets are just as easy to access as the private car and perhaps even more so, because users can rely on the vehicles always being in the same spot and having a reserved parking space when they return from their trip. The easy accessibility and high visibility of the car-sharing services has led to a high level of satisfaction among car-sharing users and a high awareness of these services among non-users in Bremen, which a recent Analysis of the Impact of Car-Sharing in Bremen showed

Policies in an urban context can define the quality of service that shared mobility operators should provide in order to aid the municipality in reaching its overall sustainability goals.

However, they should not be too restrictive, either in the sense that the limit any form of innovation or the possibility to respond to new user needs. Policies should enable rather than disable. Policies should also be responsive to innovations and changes in the market. The field of shared mobility is still so new and changing so rapidly – seemingly at an hourly rate – that a policy written today may be completely out of date in five years.

Policy makers have to accept the fact that we must be flexible and adapt to changing conditions as long as we do not lose sight of the overall goal: liveable, sustainable, healthy and socially-equitable cities, regions and countries.

How do we foster safe innovation through policy, especially when Autonomous Vehicles are introduced to our cities?

With regard to autonomous vehicles, there is certainly a need to develop policies that foster the transition from car-dominated cities to people-oriented, resource-efficient and sustainable cities.

As in Robin Chase’s “Heaven and Hell Scenario” on autonomous vehicles, I think it’s clear that we’d all prefer to live in the future cities of the “Heaven” scenario. This can only be accomplished when vehicles of the future become shared and cities are built with attractive, high-frequency public transport, where active modes are supported and transport in individual cars only occurs on a needs-basis or as a last-mile solution.

However, we don’t have to wait for autonomous vehicles for that kind of scenario to be possible. The well-known OECD International Transport Forum Lisbon Study demonstrated that if all car-trips were shared trips, the same level of mobility could be maintained and accessibility of workplaces and services by citizens increased with only 10% of the existing vehicle fleet, regardless of whether that fleet is autonomous or not.

Policy makers, municipal stakeholders and perhaps a vast majority of the public often tend to believe that the onset of new technologies is inevitable – that they’re coming, whether we like it or not.

As if they themselves were autonomous and conscious. What we forget is that we allow technologies to develop and “take over”, and that we have the power to determine HOW they take over. The same goes for cities. Autonomous vehicles may change the way cities look just as much as the introduction of the automobile did almost a century ago.

Urban policy makers have an incredible opportunity at this moment: to develop policies that allow the introduction of autonomous vehicles into our transport system only under the condition that they contribute to the points I mentioned above – liveable, sustainable, resource efficient, healthy and socially-equitable cities and regions.

What policy change would you like to see to create a more inclusive mobility solution in your city, inclusive in the sense of social equity?

At this point I must issue a “disclaimer” that this is my personal opinion and not the position of the City of Bremen or necessarily the policy of my employer:

A policy change that I would like to see, in a greater sense, is that we place a greater focus on social equity in the way we communicate about our mobility or urban development solutions.

The benefits of many of our municipal development and mobility strategies do include social equity but it’s often lost in our daily communication. Public transport, for instance, is an important place for social inclusion: in an attractive public transport system, persons of all backgrounds come together: young, old, well-to-do, poor, native or immigrant.

One of the most important aspects of a socially inclusive society is being aware of the variety of people around you and their differing needs. When using public transport, you’re confronted with an entire cross-section in society and you cannot hide from your roll in it.

From an implementation policy standpoint, there’s a lot that can be done that is, for the most part, not that difficult but that requires significant political will and steadfastness: streets for people, not for cars; no barriers for the physically less mobile or visually impaired, clear priority for pedestrians, cyclist and public transport over automotive transport, low-cost if not free public transport.

A lot of this we already have in Bremen, but naturally, there’s always room for improvement and the conditions are not always the same for all people throughout the city. Although I would certainly describe myself as being an idealist, I’m also capable of being a realist. Therefore, I can accept that the ideal solution may not always be viable, at least in the short term, and that changes to the “system” are difficult and do not happen overnight.

But in a perfect world, active, shared, socially inclusive and sustainable transport modes would be given the same level of privilege in future that the automotive sector has received -at least from a federal level – for more than half a century.

Rebecca Karbaumer is an urbanite who’s passionate about creating sustainable, liveable and socially equitable cities. Since 2013, she has been a sustainable mobility project coordinator with the City of Bremen and is responsible for implementing Bremen’s Car-Sharing Action Plan and advising investors who are seeking to integrate mobility management measures into their housing developments as a means of reducing demand for parking and reducing building costs. She is currently the project coordinator for the Interreg North Sea Region project that’s all about shared mobility called SHARE-North. Connect with Rebecca here.

ashley hand, Co-founder at cityfi

Ashley Hand Women in Shared Mobility

What policies do we need in order to make shared mobility solutions more successful?

We need to build for people first. Shared mobility is a great business model but without safe, walkable neighbourhoods, we are not solving some of the most basic inequities we’ve designed into our cities today.

1. Adopt complete streets policies and building codes to make our roads and development safer for all users (who wants to walk through a parking lot?).

2. Eliminate parking requirements. Build it if you want to (and banks will probably still require it for years to come) but let’s not make it a policy to build housing for cars that are under utilized and taking over valuable space.

3. Enable new business models access to the public right-of-way. Start by understanding your curb space and make sure there are processes in place to support shared uses.

How do we foster safe innovation through policy, especially when Autonomous Vehicles are introduced to our cities?

Set a vision today for what you want the future of mobility to look like. We need to have cities at the table NOW to determine how these technologies will evolve and be deployed. Start the conversation today — you’ll be surprised by how much you have to bring to the discussion.

What policy change would you like to see to create a more inclusive mobility solution in your city, inclusive in the sense of social equity?

Better land use can help us radically transform our neighbourhoods and help eliminate the need to travel long distances to access healthy food, healthcare, education, and employment opportunities. We need to create inclusive cities where it is affordable to live in our most improved neighbourhoods and incentivize investment in those that have lagged in infrastructure and service improvements.

Ashley Z. Hand, AIA, LEED AP BD+C is co-founder of the urban change management network CityFi, advising cities and the private sector on a more human-centered approach to smart cities. Previously, Ashley served as the Transportation Technology Strategist for the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation where she authored Urban Mobility in a Digital Age. This strategy, being implemented today, includes recommendations for public policy, strategic actions and pilot initiatives to enable the city to shape a vision of the future that works for all Angelenos in an era of shared mobility and autonomous vehicle technologies. Connect with Ashley here.

Policies, while perhaps not the “sexiest” topic in shared mobility, might just be the most important aspect to drive forward change in carsharing, autonomous vehicles, and public transport. Interested in our Women in Shared Mobility series? Have a look at all of the interviews here.

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