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New transit group wants to steer cities toward better scooter policy

The New Urban Mobility Alliance wants to help cities makes sense of today’s transit technology


Ride-hailing, dockless bikes and scooters, and autonomous vehicles have made the transit and transportation landscape difficult to decipher. A new organization seeks to help cities make sense of today’s rapid change, offering a roadmap for changing roadways.

The New Urban Mobility Alliance, or NUMO, which launched this afternoon at an event in Washington, D.C., wants to use this paradigm shift to steer cities towards cleaner, healthier, and more multimodal transportation.

By serving as a clearinghouse for research, the organization, which aims to attract policymakers, the private sector, and researchers, wants to become a trusted voice for actionable information about using new transit options, and steer service providers and startups towards better policy.

This group joins a number of other initiatives trying to analyze and make sense of new transit options, including NACTO’s SharedStreets initiative, Transportation for America’s Shared Mobility Playbook, and the Mobility Data Specification in Los Angeles, which is being used to track the city’s growing fleet of dockless scooters and bikes.

Zipcar co-founder and transit innovator Robin Chase, executive chair of the NUMO steering committee, believes there is an opportunity transit advocates need to seize to help dense urban areas transition away from being car-dominated.

“There are a lot of transportation groups, but what’s missing is unified messaging and someone to do gap analysis and fill in the gaps,” says Chase. “Right now, there’s a huge about of disruption in transit caused by technology and innovation. This new mobility is breaking through old definitions.”

The organization will organize pilot projects, such as electric scooter trials, public engagement, and experimental research to gather data to help cities quickly and efficiently put these fast-developing mobility options on their streets.

The group will be hosted by the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, and use the Shared Mobility Principles for Livable Cities as its guide, a voluntary set of rules and principles, developed by Chase, meant to help steer transportation towards more equitable, environmental, and sustainable solutions.

A $6 million seed grant from philanthropist, businessman and WRI board member Stephen M. Ross will support the group. The organization will be led by Harriet Tregoning, who has served as an assistant secretary in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and as Washington D.C.’s planning director.

“The old system is broken and people want alternatives,” says Chase. “Everyone is being forced by these new innovations to take another look at the status quo and say, ‘it’s not that great.’”