As an important player in urban mobility, Grow proposes an organization methodology for public spaces.

Micromobility systems, like dockless shared scooters services, have put in evidence the requirement to rethink how the urban public space has been managed during the last seven decades and the priority that the private car has had over the rest of the mobility options. The dockless shared vehicles adoption by the urban commuters in such a short amount of time, compared to other individual mobility options, started a whirlpool of debates on how to “order” their presence in the public space, because –for some– there is no place left for them to use, so only a few will be accepted.

The arrival of dockless shared scooters is not the cause of the disorder on the public space, it just showed the disproportions of how it is distributed in favor of big, heavy, private cars mainly used to transport one person; as well as some others misuses like marketing stalls, poor urban design, infrastructure facilities built without a clear order, significantly unused big spaces, among others.

Disproportion of how public space gets divided Source: Karl Jilg / Swedish Road Administration


The approach that some local authorities have had in order to confront this miscalled “disorder” is to limit the quantity of scooters allowed to operate in their cities, leaving an important proportion of the population, that demand new green sustainable options which allow them a more efficient urban commute, without this new mobility benefit . Nowadays, authorities might be losing an opportunity to provide a firmer support to actions that contribute to reinforce the mobility and climate change policies within a local approach. The demand for these new mobility systems must be met with a suffice, ordered and convenient offer. Therefore, to achieve this objective, we present an alternative that focuses on what should be important for the authorities, service providers and citizens: the efficiency of the system as a whole, leaving behind the idea of imposing a CAP.


The Proposal

Grow Mobility is firmly convinced that one of its responsibilities is to provide proposals that will improve the understanding, study and adoption of these new kinds of mobility services by the authorities, citizens, users, and the very own mobility sector. That is why we started the task to find some variables that allowed us to create an index that could be translated into a real-time heatmap that shows the usage of the public space by shared scooters. This index will help to improve the distribution of the scooters in order to satisfy the demand helping to decrease the perception that they are crowding the public space and are under usage.

It is important to distinguish how the usage of the scooters is measured. First, scooters in transit mean people going around making their trips, accessing their destination, enjoying and living the metropolitan life, and that’s one of the best things that micromobility has to offer to the cities. On the other hand, scooters parked longer than a certain time are a problem for companies - as they show more supply than demand, losing possible travels (and money) - as much as for cities - where scooters become potential parking occupants or passing blockers. This heatmap should analyze this operational characteristic in all cities, standardizing the level of service in urban public spaces and proposing an ideal and healthy goal.

The proposal creates a dynamic occupancy index that looks at the density of the parked scooter, the distance between vehicles and the time spent parked. The main idea is to have a panel showing a heatmap indicating when the occupancy rate exceeds a maximum acceptable value or when it is below the minimum required to provide good services. As micromobility works in a dynamic system, this index will not be created for static controls, but to provide guidance for better public policy.

The occupancy index can be described with the equation below:

Where:

These parameters will have more specific values ​​as the methodology develops, specifying the area over a radius distance in meters, for example. The maximum and minimum index limits will be calibrated for urban design characteristics of cities and specifications of current regulations and real demand. This index will help to create a “heatmap” that shows the effect of those places that are overcrowded and require having a relocation of the scooters. The ideal scenario would be to keep the heatmap with low temperatures, allowing to satisfy the demand and to collect information of how these vehicles are used.

Example of heatmap with occupancy index Source: Grow Mobility Inc.

It is important to remember that the intensity of color and volume in this graph represents the occupancy INDEX. Cold areas do not mean little use or number of scooters, but the amount and time of parked vehicles.

Looking at the regulations of Florianopolis (Brazil), for example, it's possible to get an idea of ​​how this index can be calibrated and useful for public administrations. Decree 20.103 of March 28, 2019 states in the first and second paragraphs of Article 11 that a maximum of 5 scooters parked for 30 minutes - maximum - per deployment points are allowed. Even with the set time, it still needs an area definition. That's how this index can help improve city regulation and companies operation.

The first steps made by some local authorities, like the one in Florianopolis (Brazil), show that there is a need to make a more efficient and creative use of the information that the new micromobility options are generating. For that reason, Grow Mobility works to improve the analysis of the data generated from the mobility services we provide, towards a better understanding of how people within cities move and how we can provide them better and safer options to commute.

Grow Mobility emphasises the importance of establishing safe and transparent data sharing channels for an active collaboration between authorities and mobility services. This can only lead to a better understanding of the new mobility paradigm positive externalities in the cities we love. Redistributing public space must be a priority for the authorities to strengthen mobility as a whole for every single one of their citizens. The index proposed has the objective to provide a real time vision of how micromobility systems interact within the public space.

Grow Mobility is already working to improve the index presented in order to create a path able to be followed in order to create stronger and better information of micromobility systems. Along with this, Grow Mobility will be using this index in the most representative cities where it provides micromobility services, and wants to create an open channel for feedback from experts, connoisseurs, the academy, among others to improve and foresee how it can be a solution for more efficient micromobility systems within the cities we love.

If you'd like to join the conversation contact emma.vassallo@grow.mobi!