Robin Chase, the co-founder of Zipcar, is apparently the genius behind a set of Shared Mobility Principles that came out recently. I can’t praise them too highly. Like the founding statements of New Urbanism, these principles cut past the noise and confusion of marketing and show what it would be like to deploy new technologies with the goal of humane and civilized urban life, not just the goal of personal convenience or profit.
Even more important, it’s been signed by many of the main players in the tech transportation field, including Uber, Lyft, Via and many others. That means you can quote these principles back to them when their actions conflict with these ideals.
As I watch how tech marketing is sowing confusion about public transit, and damaging local officials’ ability to think about it clearly, it’s a relief to see principles such as
1. WE PLAN OUR CITIES AND THEIR MOBILITY TOGETHER.
2. WE PRIORITIZE PEOPLE OVER VEHICLES.
3. WE SUPPORT THE SHARED AND EFFICIENT USE OF VEHICLES, LANES, CURBS, AND LAND.
From these principles alone you can derive the urgent need to invest more in high-capacity fixed route services covering most of our major cities, except the most low-density or inaccessible fringes. And the results would be something very different from what I’m seeing every day: Tech campuses built in inaccessible cul-de-sacs, or facing away from the available fixed route service, on the fantasy that in the new world everyone will use little pods that go door-to-door.
Then, when you add:
5. WE PROMOTE EQUITY.
… we derive the urgent need for shared transportation to be efficient enough to scale. Efficiency is equity. An inefficient service will only be available to a few people, and with rare exceptions like ADA paratransit those people will be an elite. So we can conclude that only a robust fixed route network, aimed at the “middle 80%” but not the elite, can scale to the point of being a tool for equitable liberty.
Anyway, even apart from how it relates to my own passions, this is good stuff. Read, and share, the whole thing.