The initial logic, stemming from before the word even existed, was that microvehicles are more economical and more accessible. The bike is cheaper; the shared bike is “always with you.” The convenience and efficiency were enough to attract users. But the addition of technological enablers, like compact, powerful batteries and motors, connectivity, location services—both on the vehicle and in the palm of the user—attracted capital and energetic founders into a set of new ventures. The virtuous cycle that followed caused an explosion of form factors, business models, and a vast spectrum of service offerings. We here at Micromobility Industries sought to create a community of people who participate in this new explosion of opportunity. My job, as I see it, is to articulate the patterns that emerge; to provide language that embraces the scope of these efforts. To that end we introduced a few concepts:
A Market for Miles: We should look at distances and trips, not just vehicles, as the definition of transportation. When seen this way we realize that most trips are short and that the available market for micromobility is far greater than would be imagined if we measured only car sales. A Market for Smiles: Customers don’t just buy trips but outcomes for those trips. If you can create better (i.e. happier) outcomes you will create new trips. Again, the market expands by understanding that satisfaction and unalloyed joy are more valuable than objects alone. The Rise and Fall of Infrastructures: Although we measure a market by current users, there is a vast market of non-users. Urbanization and the concentration of demand in megacities, coupled with the parking needs of megamobility with 96% idle times, lead to interesting questions about the allocation of precious public space. Understanding how we got to our current allocations of space is a fascinating study. Weight Categories: Proposing lightness as a proxy for the utility of micromobility. Weight correlates with so many adverse effects of transportation choices that it illuminates what is typically not visible. Definitions and controversy follows.