Where is Micromobility Heading?

Micromobility has been hailed as “the future of urban transportation” and a solution to “multiple problems in congested cities.” The term has certainly enjoyed soaring prominence in recent years, moving beyond niche circles of the mobility industry to penetrate popular consciousness. Yet, at the same time, even some transportation industry veterans do not have a complete grasp of what its full transformative potential.

Chances are good that micromobility will continue to make inroads in cities around the world as the 2020s progress. Given its rising profile and promising future, we’ve put together this introduction to micromobility, the solutions it offers, and the challenges that still lie ahead.

Defining micromobility

As an urban transportation concept, micromobility refers to small, lightweight vehicles available for short-term, individual use. There is no universally agreed-upon standard for weight and performance specifications, but one common benchmark sets weight limits at 350 kilograms (771 pounds) and top speeds at 25-45 kilometers per hour (15-28 miles per hour).

Technicalities aside, micromobility usually includes:

  • Bikeshare systems (including both conventional pedal bikes and power-assisted e-bikes)
  • Electric scooters
  • Other small personal electric vehicles like Segways, electric skateboards, hoverboards, and even electric water bikes

Some classifications also include compact electric cars with capacity for one to two passengers.

How micromobility systems work

Commuters and city-dwellers can purchase their own micromobility vehicles for their personal use, but prevailing models mainly focus on short-term rentals. These can be paid on a per-use or subscription-based system, with travelers usually accessing vehicles using their smartphones. Payment structures typically follow a flat-rate system, in which travelers pay a fixed price to access to the vehicle for a set number of minutes. Some localities use distance-based fee structures, or hybrid systems that account for both time and distance.

Passengers find shared vehicles in one of two ways: through docking stations, or dynamically. Docking stations were the universal standard when micromobility was first introduced, and they remain popular. This model sees vehicle fleets placed in strategic locations in densely populated urban centers, often near major transit hubs. Travelers use digital credentials to unlock a vehicle, which they then ride and leave at the docking station nearest their destination.

As 5G networks have rolled out, micromobility solutions have also adopted dynamic models. These allow passengers to source the nearest available vehicle through a smartphone app. Passengers then reserve the vehicle, unlock it with digital credentials upon reaching it, then ride it to their destination. The major advantage of this model is that travelers do not need to deal with docking stations: they instead use the vehicle for point-to-point travel, locking the vehicle at their destination for the next customer to use. Some systems incentivize riders to end their rides near certain in-demand locations.

Advantages, limitations, challenges, and potential solutions

The key advantage of micromobility is that it offers a feasible, convenient solution to the common “first mile/last mile” dilemma. Research shows that people in the United States are comfortable walking about a quarter of a mile to access public transit, but tend to seek other solutions if the nearest transit station or stop is further away. Micromobility can bridge those distance gaps, thus putting public transit within reach of a wider base of potential passengers.

This key advantage ties in with many other micromobility benefits:

  • It offers time- and energy-efficient solutions for short-distance smart commuting
  • Micromobility vehicles are inexpensive to operate and do not generate emissions
  • E-bikes and e-scooters are far cheaper to produce and purchase than road vehicles
  • It is inexpensive to use, thus offering strong benefits to lower-income individuals

At the same time, micromobility presents new challenges. These include:

  • Vehicle access is becoming increasingly dependent upon smartphones and internet access, presenting challenges for people who cannot afford or choose not to use these technologies
  • Micromobility vehicles can potentially lead to safety hazards for pedestrians and riders when used unsafely or on sidewalks
  • Many municipalities have yet to formally integrate them into their traffic codes
  • Some travelers abandon bikes or scooters in inopportune places, creating obstacles to foot traffic and other vehicle users

A number of experts have also expressed concerns about micromobility getting too big, too quickly: vehicle quality may suffer, creating potential pitfalls for users. And, there are important questions about the overall environmental impact shared-use vehicles have when balancing the potential to reduce emissions from transportation with their short lifespans leading to waste .

However, with more research, the emerging narrative is that micromobility’s advantages outweight its known and potential drawbacks, leading cities to embrace it with increasing enthusiasm – and more thoughtful regulation.

Integrating micromobility into your commuter toolbox

Micromobility is filling gaps in urban and suburban transportation ecosystems, and forward-thinking employers are already integrate it into their programs to support commuters. RideAmigos can help you integrate public and private transportation options into a single hub to provide comprehensive commuter support.  Get started today with a friendly analysis of your programs and a demo of the future of the commute.

2018: Millions of Single Occupancy Vehicle Trips Avoided

As we prepare to welcome 2019, we’re pausing to reflect on the amazing positive impact RideAmigos partners have made on mobility, traffic, commuter wellness, and our planet.

We’re proud to be working with the leaders from Fortune 500 businesses, top research universities, and innovative government agencies engaging commuters to make a healthier, happier planet.

Here’s a look at some of what our partners have achieved this year:

RideAmigos users avoided millions of single occupancy vehicle trips in 2018.

Making a difference for employees and communities

Organizations partnering with RideAmigos are saving money, burning more calories, and reducing their greenhouse gas output by thousands of tons.

They’re doing it by offering better information and the incentives to make smart choices. Together, we’re changing the way people commute – creating a happier, healthier future for everyone.

We at RideAmigos are so grateful for the opportunity to support your success. Thanks for joining in our mission, using our tools, and leading the way for so many others. Thank you for helping us create a better world.

We look forward to continuing to empower transportation heroes in 2019 with cutting edge trip planning, ridematching, incentives management and gamification, and to share our collective wealth of knowledge and experience in the RideAmigos Academy.

To make RideAmigos part of your own 2019 success story, get started here today!

Congratulations to the 2018 ACT 40 Under 40!

The faces of the 2018 ACT 40 under 40

RideAmigos congratulates the 2019 class of 40 leaders in transportation demand management (TDM) under the age of 40. The Association for Commuter Transportation recognized these emerging professionals at the TDM Forum in Nashville, Tennessee in November.

This group of honorees represent the present and future of practice and advocacy for smart commuter transportation.

We are especially proud of our own Corey Tucker, Director of Customer Success, and Grant Heger, Director of Technical Services for being recognized this year.

We are also honored to work with so many of these brilliant professionals. Learn more about the 40 under 40 and read more about the recipients at actweb.org/act-40-under-40/.

Commuter Engagement vs. Commuter Management

As competition to recruit and retain top talent grows tougher, a growing number of companies and organizations are offering commuter programs as part of their benefits portfolio. Two common phrases you’re likely to encounter include “commuter engagement” and “commuter management.” Many people are under the impression that these two terms are interchangeable, but there are actually important differences between these cornerstone concepts.

What is commuter engagement?

Commuter engagement focuses on programs that make people feel good about adopting alternative modes. In addition to promoting short-term commuter events like Bike-to-Work Month or Rideshare Month, effective engagement strategies also aim to encourage long-term behavior change. When handled well, commuter engagement results in more people choosing to ditch the solo drive in favor of smart alternatives more often.

Essential commuter engagement strategies and concepts include things like:

  • Points programs that allow commuters to collect points they can later redeem for valuable rewards
  • Games, friendly competitions, challenges, and other incentive programs
  • Giving commuters financial incentives for leaving their cars at home, like those provided by parking cash-out programs
  • Targeted marketing campaigns that promote commuter programs to specific groups within your organization

What about commuter management?

Commuter management, on the other hand, simply seeks to provide commuters with the information and resources they need to make better use of smart mobility options. It covers things like:

RideAmigos empowers program leaders to successfully manage both commuter engagement and commuter management. Our unique, industry-leading platform includes the tools and programs that make it easy to drive higher levels of commuter engagement. Administrators also enjoy advanced commuter management features and that make managing and analyzing large and complex programs easy, efficient, and fun. To learn more about our solutions, get started with RideAmigos today!

Four Things To Watch for at the 2018 ACT TDM Forum in Nashville

The 2018 ACT TDM Forum is happening on November 13 and 14 in Nashville, Tennessee, and we’ll be watching it closely. The Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) holds several conferences and events throughout the year in addition to its annual International Conference in the summer. This forum on transportation demand management (TDM) is a key opportunity for anyone working on commuter mobility and transportation in the private or public sector.

Just like last year’s event in Las Vegas, this one has an agenda focused on preparing TDM professionals to keep up with the latest changes in technology, policy, and the evolving mobility ecosystem. Starting with the opening keynote from Gary Gaston, CEO of Nashville Civic Design Center, it promises to be an inspiring two days. And like the other events organized by ACT, what happens at the TDM Forum is a great indication of where the industry is heading.

Whether you’ll be attending in person or not, here are the important things we think you should watch for:

Breakout Sessions

An impressive agenda is taking shape and we’re excited about the topics and panelists that are showing up. From new dockless scooters to big data, we’ll be splitting up to make sure we don’t miss any of the breakout sessions featuring leaders in TDM.

Kicking off the sessions on Tuesday morning, RideAmigos Director of Customer Success, Corey Tucker, will be moderating an important discussion of how organizations can leverage mobility data to make better operational decisions.

We’re also looking forward to hearing from Lucy Tice and Jessica Sanborn from Google talk about what drives commuter choices. While you’re counting down to Nashville, check out this Coffee Talk in which Lucy shared how Google incentivized employees to bike to work.

More sessions are still being added, so check out the full agenda here.

40 under 40

The ACT 40 Under 40 Awards recognize emerging leaders in TDM. According to ACT, “the awards provide recognition for ambitious leaders who are working to find creative TDM solutions to improve the quality of life of commuters and the livability of communities.”

Each year, the 40 under 40 represent agencies, companies, and academic institutions that are leading change. In 2017, five RideAmigos clients, including Peter Williamson, were among the honorees when awards were presented in Las Vegas. RideAmigos co-founder Jeffrey Chernick is also a past honoree.

We always keep an eye on this list of 40 industry trailblazers and the organizations they represent to learn from their success and see what they’ll do next.

Who Shows Up

If you were at the 2018 ACT International Conference in Anaheim, you probably noticed something: IT. IS. GROWING.

From innovative mobility providers and technology vendors to an ever-increasing number of organizations prioritizing commuter transportation programs, the new faces at each ACT event are signaling that TDM is starting to take center stage. Whether you have been working to solve commuter mobility challenges for decades or are new to the industry, you should see the growth of this amazing community as a really positive sign.

Don’t miss this and other opportunities during the year to hear from and network with industry thought leaders, commuter management professionals from around the world, and new mobility providers.

RideAmigos Updates

We recently released major updates to the RideAmigos mobile apps and commuter engagement platform. But we have lots more in store. Our team will be on hand in Nashville with some exciting things to show you. If you’re already a RideAmigos customer, you can also get early previews through Academy Office Hours webinar series.

If you’ll be coming to the ACT TDM Forum and you’d like to meet with our team, email act@rideamigos.com. If you can’t make it, you can contact us for a demo and consultation. Either way, we’d love to meet you to learn about your challenges and share some of what we’re excited about this Fall.

How to Get University Employees to Carpool

Helpful tips for getting university employees to carpool more often

Universities face a unique set of challenges with regard to car-based commuting. At educational institutions, administrators often face rising year-over-year demand for limited parking facilities. Building new parking structures is very expensive. Given that reality, a growing number of schools are using their resources to get more university employees to carpool instead.

While some schools have overlooked employee carpooling and commuter programs in the past in favor of focusing primarily on student transportation needs, that is quickly changing. Administrators are realizing that employee carpool initiatives provide several key benefits. They offer excellent starting points like being convenient, engaging frequent commuters, and delivering outstanding cost-to-benefits ratios.

Colleges and universities typically employ hundreds if not thousands of staff and faculty members, giving them large communities to work with. This means university carpool programs are an excellent option to get more employees to carpool, especially when supported by proven strategies like:

  • Premium parking. Give vehicles used in carpools access to convenient parking spots. This also generates visibility for your rideshare programs, showing other university employees the popularity of carpooling.
  • Parking cash-out option. Offer employees financial benefits in exchange for giving up their parking privileges and watch participation rates soar.
  • Commuter rewards and challenges. Engage community members while promoting carpooling as an alternative to solo driving through commuter rewards initiatives and campus-wide commuter challenges.

Engage more employees through strategic communication

Administrators will also enjoy better success in their efforts in encouraging employees to carpool when they strategically promote the availability of ridematching resources. Here are some easy, effective ways to do that:

  • Build awareness through signage and email campaigns.
  • Mention the availability of commuter support programs, like rideshare matching, during new employee orientation sessions.
  • Draw attention to your program through periodic challenge and special events like rideshare month.
  • Promote rewards and incentive programs that encourage ongoing participation.

One particularly effective strategy used by a growing number of universities is to create commuter rewards programs that allow employees to rack up points every time they log a carpool trip to or from work. These points can then be redeemed for a wide variety of gift cards or other merchandise via a mobile app or commuter portal, which gets keeps people engaged for the long term.

Looking for more tips on how to deal with the parking crunch at your school?
Be sure to check out our free e-book on reducing campus parking demand.

If you need further advice on how to get university employees to carpool more often, or if you want a free, objective evaluation of your existing commuter programs, the RideAmigos team is here to help. Get started today!

RideAmigos Customers are Winners at 2018 Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) Awards

 

On August 1, the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) hosted its 2018 international conference. This year’s gathering was held in Anaheim, California, and during the event, 15 individuals or organizations received awards for their outstanding achievements in transportation demand management (TDM). The entire RideAmigos team is excited to announce that  eleven of the twenty-nine ACT Award finalists and four of the winners use RideAmigos to power their innovative commuter programs.

First, the Parking Services division at California State University-Los Angeles copped a Marketing and Outreach award for its successful efforts to promote alternatives to solo driving, implement forward-thinking commuter projects and policies, and reduce the local environmental impact of commuting.

Next, the City of Austin Smart Commute Rewards program earned an award in the Commuting Options category. This program allows city employees in the fast-growing city of Austin, Texas earn rewards for logging commutes with solo driving alternatives. The program’s manager, Tien-Tien Chan, said, “We are honored to be selected for this award,” and added that, “I find it immensely valuable to see how other companies and jurisdictions are creatively tackling the problems that we all face.”

Third, Go Redmond won in the Commuting Options – Biking category. The initiative is a partnership between the Greater Redmond Transportation Management Association (GRTMA), King County Metro, and the City of Redmond, and it aims to increase bicycle ridership year-round as a commuting alternative. Go Redmond also provides a wealth of informational resources to people and organizations looking to reduce their carbon footprint while embracing smarter transportation alternatives.

Finally, the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) Transportation department captured the Commuting Options – Public Transportation award for its intensive efforts to make public transit, cycling, carpooling, and vanpooling more accessible to its commuter base of 80,000 staff and students.

All four of these organizations rely on the revolutionary, tool-rich RideAmigos platform to create, administer, and power their commuter programs. We’d be proud to be a part of your success story in 2019. Get started with RideAmigos today, and improve mobility, sustainability, and organizational health and wellness by putting the power of our cutting-edge software to work for your organization.

3 Strategies to Engage Commuters

Strategies to Engage Commuters

When asked, many commuters claim to be open to using smart transportation alternatives but, in practice, they are reluctant to try. To overcome this challenge, organizations need to really engage commuters and give them compelling reasons to skip the solo drive.

Over the years, we’ve seen quite a few engagement strategies come and go. If you need to dramatically shift commuter behavior, strategically-designed incentives are the key. But it’s also crucial to provide commuters with convenient tools for accessing your programs and transportation choices.

Here are three strategies that work in the real world, and will actually help you engage commuters and generate higher levels of participation in your commuter programs:

 

Blue Dot 1

Commuter Rewards Programs

Reward programs that offer commuters points for each trip they take are increasingly popular and incredibly effective. Users earn credit for approved trips and can then redeem accumulated points for rewards and prizes. This strategy is most effective when you offer premium incentives, such as gift cards, that appeal to a broad cross-section of interests. Improve and diversify the rewards you offer and watch your participation rates climb.

 

Blue Dot 2

Commuter Challenges and Gamification 

Another proven way to engage commuters is to appeal to their sense of friendly competition – with others, or with themselves. Gamification and challenge programs can kindle a cooperative team spirit, increasing camaraderie among team members. Both general commuter challenges and mode-specific challenges like bike-to-work programs are effective ways to get people to create initial engagement and try a new mode that just might become a habit. Follow up your challenge with an ongoing reward program for maximum long-term impact.

 

Blue Dot 3

Go Mobile 

Giving commuters easy access to smarter commuting choices is vital to the success of your initiative. Mobile commuter engagement apps reach people where they’re already spending a lot of their time: on their smartphones. Use these apps to link commuters with mode options and resources, provide easy ways to discover and participate in rewards and challenges, review progress toward incentives, and more.

 

With cutting-edge, cloud-based management software and ready-to-run commuter programs, RideAmigos is here to be your commuter engagement partner. Our industry-leading platform and mobile apps are packed with tools and features for both administrators and commuters, making it easy to implement reward programs, run challenges, connect commuters, and much more. Get started with RideAmigos today!

Using Point Programs to Sustain Behavior Change

Challenges and special events are great ways to get commuters to try out alternative modes of transportation. However, research demonstrates that many challenge participants simply return to their old habits once the event comes to an end. Thus, while events like National Bike Month are very successful at delivering the initial spark that jolts commuters into trying something new, the problem is that the spark too-often fizzles out once there’s no longer an immediate impetus for continuing. Longer-term incentive programs offer a great compliment to shorter challenges, and point programs are among the most effective ongoing incentive options.

What Are Point Programs?

Point programs are incentives that are put in place on a long-term or permanent basis. They allow commuters to earn points every time they log a commute using an alternative to solo driving. Depending on how the program is designed, all modes may receive the same amount of points, or certain modes may be prioritized, such as carpooling or biking. These points accumulate over time, and can then be redeemed for prizes, benefits, and other perks.

Transportation managers and administrators can use specialized commuter management software to track points, manage prize inventory and benefit distribution, and enable employees to log their commutes quickly and easily in a variety of ways.

Applying Point Programs in Your Company

Point programs build on the principles of year-round incentive programs like “emergency ride home” initiatives. Emergency ride home options provide vouchers for motorized transportation, like taxis or ride-hailing services, which are offered to commuters who are unexpectedly faced with the need to get home quickly. They are designed to solve one of the most pressing problems associated with active commuting: what does someone who walks or bike to work do if the weather turns bad, or if unexpected circumstances require them to get home or go somewhere in a hurry?

However, emerging insights show that while emergency ride home programs are a key component of a smart commuting program, they are not usually enough to encourage sustained behavior change on their own. That’s why pairing them with point programs is so much more effective; commuters have a built-in, long-term incentive for using alternative modes of transportation, and they also have the assurance of a guaranteed ride home if they ever need one.

One increasingly popular way for employees to redeem their points is through a commuter store. In commuter stores, enticing prizes are offered at various point levels, with more points “buying” bigger and better prizes. They give employees something to strive for, and greatly enhance their senses of accomplishment and reward. Common prizes include logo gear from the sponsoring organization (sunglasses, t-shirts, notebooks, etc.), gift cards of various value levels, or raffle tickets towards a chance to win even higher-value items. Our recent support article on choosing commuter store rewards provides a more in-depth look at effective strategies for setting up a commuter store.

Point Program Examples

The City of Austin has made use of an effective point program that uses a slightly different strategy. Austin’s initiative allows city employees to exchange points for the ultimate reward – paid time off. It has proven to be a win-win in one of the fastest-growing cities in America.

The University of Arizona also recently launched a commuter store targeted at both students and university employees, to great success. You can hear first-hand from both the City of Austin and the University of Arizona in the video from last month’s RideAmigos Academy webinar about point programs. On the regional level, Commute.org in San Mateo, CA runs an excellent point program called the STAR store, which they shared about during a presentation at CommuteCon earlier this year.

Do you have an idea for a point program, but you’re not sure how to implement it? Are you having a hard time figuring out what kinds of incentives or rewards to offer for maximum behavior shift? We’re here to help! Get in touch, and we’ll be happy to help you work through your ideas and find dynamic new ways of engaging your commuters.

 

 

Scooter Sharing: Coming Soon to a City Near You

A man posing on electric scooter.

If they’re not already popping up in your city, they could be coming soon. A fast-growing group of app-based electric scooter (e-scooter) fleets are racing to solve short distance urban travel and last mile challenges for commuters. The introduction of e-scooters has been the subject of controversy in some cities. However, as part of a mobility ecosystem, they can be a great complement to the set of transportation options available to employees, students or residents. If you have questions about how scooters might impact your commuters, read on to learn more.

What are dockless electric scooters?

In recent months, companies like Bird, LimeBike, and Lyft have made major investments in scooter sharing platforms. Bird is a Santa Monica, California-based mobility company founded and operated by Travis VanderZanden, a former VP at Uber and COO at Lyft. LimeBike made its name in the bikeshare space before launching scooter shares in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Washington DC. Spin, another bikeshare provider has added a scooter fleet. With other scooter companies popping up, now even ride-hailing companies like Lyft may be getting in on the act.

The scooters being used in these programs aren’t like the one you might have zipped around on as a kid; they’re electric vehicles capable of reaching speeds of up to 15 miles per hour. They allow commuters to roll down the street while enjoying point-to-point service that is being promoted as an ideal solution to the last-mile service dilemma, thanks to their compact size and service model.

How do they work? 

Rather than borrowing a scooter from a dock station, commuters can source a scooter with a geolocation-enabled smartphone app – think Pokemon Go – that will tell the user where the nearest scooter is.  The rider then unlocks the scooter, rides to his or her destination, then parks it, hopefully in a safe spot out of the way of pedestrians. Compared to dockless bikeshare programs, which use a similar model, shared scooters take up much less valuable sidewalk space when not in use.

Most electric scooter payment models see riders pay a flat rate to unlock the scooter, then ride the scooter as long as desired for a low per-minute rate. Because they are geared toward short distance rides, there is often no minimum time allotment, but rental time and distance is only limited by battery life.

At night, service providers – often using contractors – collect the scooters, charge them back up, and replace them in convenient locations for use by commuters the next morning.

As these scooters proliferate in cities, communities and governments are working to adapt. Some have voiced safety concerns for riders and pedestrians. In many cases, scooter companies are cooperating with cities as they work through the policy process. They are also making efforts to ensure riders comply with helmet laws. LimeBike distributes free helmets in communities where they have launched their electric bike and scooter fleets, and Bird will mail a helmet to anyone who signs up and requests one.

At RideAmigos, we know that more transportation options mean greater mobility for commuters. If you’re looking to help connect your commuters to a wider range of mode options, connect with us to learn more about how a commuter management platform can help.