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Read the latest news from across the whole sector that highlights the development of affordable, accessible and low-carbon shared mobility

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Shared Bikes News - 10 Oct 2017

Future of UK Bike Share Conference Presentations

Presentations from the speakers at the Bikeplus 2nd Annual Conference

For copies of the presentations please email info@como.org.uk

Day One   Bikeplus Survey Results 2017 Antonia Roberts, Bikeplus Opening Address from Greater Manchester Councillor Chris Paul, Deputy Cycling and Walking Commissioner for Greater Manchester Address from Chris Boardman Keynote Opening - Is the future shared? Ed Gillespie, Futerra  

      Trends in bike share from North America  Aaron Ritz, NABSA, Better Bike Share Partnership & City of Philadelphia          

   
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articles - 17 Aug 2017

The end of diesel & petrol cars? What about changing mobility? Writes Alistair Kirkbride

  Last week, the press was aflutter with the headline grabbing announcement of the demise of not just diesel cars, but petrol by 2040 to help tackle the UKs air quality problems. This might be great for all sorts of reasons – if a little late – but will the lights stay on? And is this the right way of looking at the urgency of today’s urban air quality crisis anyway?   The Government’s announcement continues the near-fetishism with car ownership, perhaps wrapped this time in the Industrial Strategy, but always in denial of developing a modern mobility system that fits the 21st century that is not based around the flawed 20th century idea of car ownership. Mobility matters (to coin a phrase).    
  But let’s consider this first in terms of the gritty pragmatism of whether it’s even possible to electrify all car travel anyway. Even with the grid getting smarter and generation becoming localised, there are serious misgivings about adding a whole new sector (car travel) to an already strained electricity and distribution network. While the National Grid in its Future Energy Scenarios 2017 [1] suggests that the projected growth in EVs is (just?) possible in terms of impact on generation and distribution, this was before the announcements of no petrol or diesel cars after 2040. Serious misgivings have been voiced elsewhere – such as Green Alliance’s ‘People Power – How consumer choice is changing the UK energy system’ [2] on peak loading and the impacts of EV charging clustering leading to “brownouts”, all of which points to the need for some pretty serious upgrading of the grid to accommodate the proposed numbers of EVs.   Smart grids, targeted upgrading and the use of storage (including in EV batteries) to manage peaks are all possible and compelling, but do we need to take this approach? If access to clean electricity is likely to be limited, then the shift to EVs should be in city centres in shared contexts in order to tackle immediate air quality problems.   If we step back and consider what we are trying to achieve, then my question is whether we are taking seriously the potential of new mobility systems and new behaviours instead of being blinded by drivetrain technology, tailpipe emissions and car ownership.   The two figures are from analysis of MOT data by the www.MOTproject.net [3]. Let’s make an assumption that energy use can be taken as a proxy for overall emissions; these charts show that total emissions are more closely related to how far people travel per year than how clean their cars are. In short, to tackle emissions, we need to get to grips with demand.   Tackling demand is too often seen as being in the “too hot to handle” box. Why?   It’s increasing clear that there are fairly fundamental shifts in travel behaviour. This is often associated with the replacement of the right-of-passage of getting a car with the desire to keep connected.  
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articles - 7 Jun 2017

What proportion of the population can shared transport appeal to? Writes Alistair Kirkbride: LTT Mobility Matters

Who travels how? As we consider new models of mobility – whether these are autonomous vehicles or Mobility as a Service packages – perhaps the more interesting question is, who is likely to travel how in the future? Put another way, of the people you know, how might they be travelling in 5 or 10 year’s time?  
  In the housing sector, an oft-overlooked likelihood is that about 80% of 2050’s housing stock has already been built [1]. In a similar vein, how similar will be people’s mobility lifestyles be in 2050 to now? Who (and how many) might be travelling differently – but more importantly, who won’t be. While we can’t know the answer to this, we canexplore who is currently changing behaviour.   The last 15 years has also led to a much clearer understanding of the sorts of people that use sustainable transport. This is mainly due to the of Government initiatives such as the DfT Sustainable Travel Towns and Local Sustainable Transport Fund programmes, and Scotland’s Smarter Choices, Smarter Places. This has still not been brought together into an evidence-based coherent understanding of future mobility lifestyles. As a complement to this, having good data regarding types of users of shared transport. Spoiler alert – car club use is fairly socially filtered but widening, bikeshare (and especially electric bikes) seems to appeal to a wider demographic than cycling more generally. So who does – and doesn’t – use shared transport, and what might we take from this knowledge regarding broader understanding and influence over how people might travel in the future?   The Table shows that the majority of types of people that currently use car clubs come from a minority of the types of people in the UK population. Perhaps more interesting is the differences between the places: is the wider range of types of people in Scotland’s car clubs a result of the very deliberate intervention and support by the Scottish Government since 2010? Is the narrower range of types in London due to the dominance of the commercial focus of London operations and development? If this is the case, then it is a strong case for public sector intervention to ensure that the benefits of car clubs are spread fairly – across types of users and places.   X% of car club users come from Y Mosaic groups (of 66); these groups account for Z% of the population (Data from Carplus Car Club Annual Survey, 2016)            
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Shared Bikes News - 6 Jun 2017

Interest-free loans for electric bikes in Scotland

  Businesses looking to purchase plug-in electric vehicles, electric scooters or electric bikes are being offered interest-free loans by The Energy Saving Trust in Scotland.   The money is available for schemes looking to add electric transport to their fleet in Scotland, or to launch in new areas.    
  Contact Gordon Manson at the Energy Saving Trust to apply or for more details call 0131 539 4138 or email gordon.manson@se.homeenergyscotland.org  
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News - 6 Jun 2017

Liftshare granted funding to investigate rural and social isolation

2+ operator Liftshare has won £25,000 worth of funding from Nesta to explore initiatives to end rural and social isolation faced by people across Norfolk.   Working in partnership with local Community Transport (CT) providers throughout the county on their project ‘HappyCT’ to find ways to improve on-demand transport options for those suffering from social and rural isolation, and to aim to promote available services to potential users.  
  Last November, Nesta research revealed an untapped market for platforms with a social purpose – nearly 45 million British adults are not aware of how sharing economy technologies can help them access social support services, or support community causes. This inspired the company to launch the ShareLab fund. Liftshare is one of eight companies to receive funding for their project.   The HappyCT project will be headed up by Liftshare’s Head of Growth, Paul Gosnell, who is now undertaking the initial research phase. Paul said: “Community Transport is a huge industry but relatively unknown to the people it can help most – the people cut off from society due to lack of or poor transport options. Combining support, awareness, and data with technology can help connect people and CT operators which is something myself and Liftshare are passionate about doing. Using technology to solve real problems. I encourage all interested parties to get in touch with me to share their ideas and opinions!”   Helen Goulden, Executive Director, Innovation Lab at Nesta, comments: “The ideas funded through ShareLab show that the collaborative economy has many practical applications beyond just finding a place to stay or getting a cab ride. We see great potential in these innovations to help alleviate some of the pressure on local governments, addressing the real needs of people, families and communities.”  
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articles - 9 Mar 2017

LTT Comment: Are changes in how we travel bound to reduce social mixing?

Mobility matters 3rd March 2017 Life used to be simple in the transport world. People generally owned cars, used public transport or walked and cycled. OK, I am guilty of opening with what is probably a false premise, but stick with me for now. As the boundaries between private and public transport blur through the emergence of shared models and new forms of ownership, maybe the discussion could shift to private and public spaces of travel. Put another way, if the future means that we summon pods to whisk us to our destination, what have we lost through not mingling with other people on the way?
  What makes a great place? The diagram above demonstrates that a significant part of “great places” involve social contact.   Given free choice, would more (most?) people choose to travel in their own private space than mix with strangers? For anyone who has been skiing, waiting in line for a 6-person gondola is an interesting social experiment: I’d suggest most people secretly hope that the “strangers” behind choose to take the next gondola; get on any busy-and-getting-busier bus or train, and people fill the empty seats first; Jonathan Dunne, the originator of the 2016 “Tube Chat” campaign that aims to get people talking to each other on the London Underground, suggests that about 80% of people think its “terrible, the worst idea ever”.   So are we really social animals? Or does it just need a rethink when we consider transport?   Looking back to the rise of the private car, two of the key drivers for its popularity (ignoring for now issues of affordability or social norms) were the promise of independence of journey making plus the privacy of the capsule.   Robin Chase’s brilliant video of the heaven or hell future scenarios for autonomous vehicles only touches on the idea of social mixing. In the changing world of mobility and the rise of new ways of travelling, should(n’t) we be focussing a bit more on this? The risk of not doing may inadvertently lead us into a form of hell where increasing numbers of people mix even less with others from outside their chosen social bubbles.   Social mixing has been considered in great detail in relation to things that don’t move, but seems to largely to have evaded moving spaces aka transport or mobility.   The approach to design of public realm usually considers social mixing explicitly; this often involves not just how people pass through, but about creating places and opportunities for pausing as well as managing mixing. The explicit development of mixing spaces is a core part of more radical interventions as outlined in Charles Montgomery’s Happy City (2015), as well as the UK’s Home zones and other traffic calmed and traffic free areas.   Perhaps the most obvious sector where social mixing is made explicit is in relation to housing. From the benefits of deliberately designing-in mixed tenures, scale and values of housing in development to the issues of gated communities and social exclusion, the mixing of types of people is a big issue in property development.  Danish Architect Jan Gehl’s recent observations on the social problems of skyscraper living is neatly summarised as “stacking people on shelves is a very efficient method of human isolation” and the observation that “we have seen in the past 20 years a withdrawal from society into the private sphere”. The architecture literature is crammed with classic (if somewhat impenetrable) tomes relating to the design of social interaction including Bachelard’s “The Poetics of Space” (1958), Lefebvre’s “The Production of Space” (1991).  
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articles - 7 Feb 2017

LTT Comment: Could regulation deliver public good and trigger vitality in the new mobility sector?

  Mobility Matters February 2017 The relationship and role between the public and private sector keeps rearing its head as the mobility world develops. Court cases between public sector bodies and Uber, or the lack of meshing between fast-evolving carsharing operators and London Boroughs make the national press. The subtext is often “cash rich young guns outpace conservative old guard”. However, even though the vast majority of people and things that move do so in “traditional” ways, the new and disruptive operations are all predicted to become major players and are already having major influence on the new mobility landscape.
  If we scratch underneath the headlines, what do they say about the growth pains of “new mobility” and how might these get resolved? Is it possible for the private sector’s profit-led drivers (or at least race to viability) to mesh with the public sector’s responsibility to deliver public good for mutual benefit? What might this world look like?   This raises two relevant concepts – viewing transport as a utility (and hence whether the regulatory and governance models of other utilities might illuminate the future direction of “new mobility”) and the Porter hypothesis. Exploring these together might help us understand some of the questions around regulation and fast-moving disruptive mobility services.   Let’s start with the Porter hypothesis.   In its pure form, this says that strict environmental regulations can reduce inefficiency and encourage innovation which improves commercial competitiveness. When proposed (in 1995), it was seen in some quarters as turning prevailing economic theory on its head. The idea of constraining markets through regulation to trigger growth flew in the face of the predominant economic and political dogma of the time. However, its core idea seems to have survived subsequent critiques and reviews pretty much intact, and its application has been stretched to relative competitiveness of whole countries.   So let’s apply the idea to the relationship between the public sector – via regulation and policy – and the disruptive private sector mobility operators. This leads to a couple of useful questions. Firstly, could more – or better – policy and regulation lead to efficiency, innovation and competitiveness in the new mobility sector? The car sharing sector is pretty much unregulated. Quality assurance is provided by the Carplus accreditation scheme or BVRLA membership, and is used by the public sector to determine whether to enter into contractual arrangements with operators. But if we look at London, there are significant differences in how car sharing is implemented in different boroughs, and this is microcosm of the rest of the UK. This is currently limiting the sector’s ability to realise the scale of potential “public good” benefits that could be delivered.   Secondly – and more importantly for the purposes of this argument – would increased efficiency, innovation and competitiveness in this sector enhance public good?   Brought together, these two questions frame the sort of regulatory constraints that might lead to better outcomes.   Alongside the Porter hypothesis, let’s also look at what we can learn from how utilities are regulated. Might utility regulation contribute to a new framework?   Is it appropriate to consider mobility as a utility? A quick trawl provides fairly clear definitions of what constitutes a public utility as “…a business that furnishes an everyday necessity to the public at large. Public utilities provide water, electricity, natural gas, telephone service, and other essentials. Utilities may be publicly or privately owned, but most are operated as private businesses” .   The ongoing shift to people consuming mobility services – and the subsequent challenges being addressed here relating to regulation – suggest that there is at least some mandate to follow this argument. This is interesting when we consider how other utilities are regulated in relation to mobility.   The UK’s system of regulation means that each sector has its Regulatory Office – Ofgem, Ofcom etc. “Ofmob” might not win any points for graceful branding, but let’s consider it for the new mobility sector. If we look at Ofcom for guidance, its purposes are to “… make sure that people in the UK get the best from their communications services and are protected from scams and sharp practices, while ensuring that competition can thrive.” Furthermore, “Ofcom’s principal duty is to further the interests of citizens and of consumers”. These purposes and focus are shared by the other regulatory bodies, if the way in which they carry out their duties vary.  
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articles - 25 Jan 2017

LTT Comment: Where Uber leads, community transport should follow

Mobility Matters 6 January 2017

Community transport and car clubs have common ancestry in the UK, but have diverged significantly over the years. The emergence of new technology and more widespread disruption in the transport sector now opens all sorts of opportunities to look again at what the future might hold across and beyond these sectors. Here, Kate Gifford develops ideas from the recent Community Transport Association’s (CTA) conference.  
  The recent CTA conference exposed a fundamental conundrum for transport professionals. Those operating community transport on the very smallest scale see very few resonances with car clubs or novel transport providers like Uber, and even fewer with rail and bus operators. The vision of connected transport services and Mobility as a Service seems worlds away from meeting the needs of “those who are otherwise isolated or excluded, enabling them to live independently, participate in their communities and access education, employment, health and other services”.   However, the developments in real time data, booking and payment platforms, fleet management and telematics which contribute to putting public and shared transport services together in Mobility as a Service packages, could transform and energise community transport. It could represent a phase shift in enabling community transport to provide “flexible, accessible and responsive solutions to unmet local transport needs” .   In an environment where the budgets for local transport services are consistently being reduced, community transport has an increasingly important role to play in future provision of local transport services.   Within this same environment of budget cuts, public transport providers are grappling with how to provide smaller scale, lighter, more tailored transport services because it is a better use of their resources. We see that RATP is operating demand responsive shared commuter travel in Bristol. Its ‘Slide’ project using 7 seater vehicles driving between ‘virtual bus stops’ under taxi legislation requires less investment and quickly reconfigures flexible timetables to maximise vehicle use and capacities.   The incredible growth of Uber, whose business claim is merely to ‘offer a platform to allow passengers to connect with drivers’, demonstrates how technology can cut across legislation, reduce the need for investment in fleets and drivers and provide travel flexibility for individuals. Even though Uber is gradually being reined in and given more responsibilities for drivers and passengers, the technology it uses shows a direction of travel for transport that cannot be reversed.   Meanwhile, it may seem like a pipedream to shift the current provision of community transport to all singing, all dancing apps and platforms. However, if community led sectors want to maintain transport provision in these areas, it’s a shift we need to make.   We shouldn’t underestimate the impact of ‘disruptors’ on the future of community transport. In North America, Uber are starting to provide non-emergency patient transport and look at ways to boost demand for their wheelchair accessible vehicle fleet (which many cities require them to have). Uber’s move into providing dial-a-ride services has been somewhat more controversial – with Pinellas County in Florida being the first area in the USA to subsidise rides. With the spread of Uber across many major cities in the UK, it is only matter of time before we start to see similar developments here.   However, the shift the community led sector needs to make may not be as big as first anticipated. We have already seen how technology can be introduced to allow community resources to be utilised to their maximum potential. Even many of the smallest car clubs use telematics and online booking software.   Sharing this technology is already happening in places.   A good example of this is the provision of a wheelchair accessible vehicle as part of the car club offer in Bristol (operated by BCT in partnership with Co-wheels). The car can be booked online using booking software and telematics provided by Co-wheels. This has made the vehicle easier to access as it is available on-street and can be opened using a smartcard.  
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