'I love that travelers are offered a broad
spectrum of mobility

Annie Chang is mobility expert at SAE International and shares her opinion to the
current development of mobilty. 

How do you move around in the city?

I am a supersharer. I use bikesharing, scooter sharing, ridesourcing, and microtransit to achieve 99 per cent of my trips. I choose my mode for each trip based on the trip characteristics and weather. I usually take microtransit to work and take bikesharing back home.

The list of concepts, brands and companies offering any form of shared mobility is getting long. Do you think this is a good development for both companies and potential users?

I love that travelers are offered a broad spectrum of mode options. I think the burden for travelers is mostly related to “app hopping.” A true MaaS platform with integrated payment and trip planning would reduce much of this burden.

For the industry, the competition from its accelerated growth encourages innovation and exploration of viable mobility solutions outside the traditional envelope of transportation. I love that.

At SAE International, you specifically work with shared mobility and micromobility in your portfolio. Could you explain how these two are related or complement each other?

There are clear intersects between shared and micromobility. Most of micromobility that we see today are in shared fleets. For example, data sharing of microvehicle sharing is a critical piece that requires attention regarding standardization. We are currently trying to address this very issue.

With more services available, will standardization become more important?

Most definitely. For example, standardization work on interoperable charging of microvehicles could mean e-scooters and e-bikes from different manufacturers and operators could be charged using the same charging infrastructure. This could result in efficient use of curb space with less sidewalk cluttering, improved unit economics for operators, and reduction in vandalism as well as wear and tear of microvehicles.

If the main goal of new mobility concepts is to make people ditch their car and become part of the network of shared mobility providers: How successful would you rate the development so far from your perspective?

I believe that the impact of shared mobility on car ownership varies for each shared travel mode. I would speculate that carsharing would have the greatest impact on lowering car ownership. Micromobility serves as a viable alternative to short car trips, especially e-bikes. Micromobility may as well serve to introduce travelers to microvehicles, which then may encourage ownership. But they are definitely not “conventional cars.”

Do you think shared mobility, or a combination of providers, can offer the same flexibility as a car does?

Yes, and more! However, this only holds true for those who have access to the spectrum of services and are only staying in certain urban cores. Within urban cores, short distance trips (< 5 miles) can be achieved relatively easily with shared mobility. However, in the current form of shared mobility, travelers must have access to a smartphone with a data plan, the mobility service must be available in their neighborhood, and the mobility service must be able to accommodate any special requirements that they have e.g. physical disabilities.

Do you think (micro-) mobility concepts nowadays are already at the end of their potential? If not, what are the next step(s) from your perspective?

No way close to its potential. We are at the very early stages of an unprecedented innovation curve for micromobility. I anticipate huge variety in both microvehicle design and access models. Microvehicles designed for shared fleets will become increasingly more robust and durable. Currently, one of the limitations of microvehicles is their extreme sensitivity to weather i.e. precipitation. Shelled or bodied microvehicles could help with that. Also, I take microvehicles everywhere except the airport due to the lack of trunk space. A shared cargo or bodied e-bike could offer the much-needed storage space for my suitcase.

How does your most convenient trip from A to B in a city look like?

Carefree, on-demand, and including appropriate trip-based mode matching. This means you can choose your modes based on your actual trip needs rather than being committed financially to a mode.

What is still missing within the current concepts, that would make you ditch your car?

I believe that the flexibility piece of car ownership has been largely addressed by shared mobility, especially through dockless forms. However, when it comes to trips with certain burdens such as going to IKEA or taking a pet to the veterinarian, the pool of viable shared mobility options suddenly shrinks.