Will Buffalo embrace the culture of e-bikes and e-scooters, now that NY State has left local communities to decide how to best handle policies? That’s the question/task that national non-profit Shared Mobility Inc. (SMI) has posed to residents.
According to SMI, the time has come to implement community-controlled mobility networks, which will level the equity playing field for everyone seeking to access low cost modes of transportation, similar to CarShare services. By providing access to e-bikes and e-scooters via the development of “Transportation Libraries,” SMI also hopes to furnish environmentally friendly transportation options, while alleviating traffic congestion and parking issues in cities.
To that end, SMI is now the recipient of 3000 donated high-tech pedal assist e-bikes from Uber, which are being used to jumpstart these one-of-a-kind Transportation Libraries in small cities, mid-sized, and disadvantaged communities. The organization is now seeking community partners, and public feedback, in New York and California.
“We appreciate the e-bike donation from Uber and hope to bring the idea of a community transportation library to many cities,” said Mike Galligano, CEO, SMI. “We define ‘Transportation Library’ as a program that may allow users to access multiple forms of transportation which can include regular bikes, e-bikes, e-trikes, e-mopeds, e-scooters, and any additional electrified modes other than the automobile. Community based organizations will lead the planning, locating and implementation of the program,” said Galligano.
SMI, who also operates Reddy Bikeshare in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, has a goal to offer a total of 1,000 transportation units across Western New York at no cost to the user, as part of the Transportation Library project.
SMI anticipates that Buffalo will embrace these electric micromobility (EMM) technologies, as the project is supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), which spans seven cities in NY State with a focus on Western New York, the Capital region, and Greater Rochester. The project is considered “the first of its kind at this size.”
“Through our demonstrations, we want policymakers and the community to try these new technologies before making decisions on them,” said Mitch LaRosa, Shared Mobility’s Program Director. “We believe this is the first step in successfully bringing more safe, equitable and environmentally sustainable transportation options to the communities we serve.”
Doreen M. Harris, Acting President and CEO, NYSERDA said, “The Transportation Library that Shared Mobility is developing shows how forward-thinking solutions and actions can provide equitable access to clean transportation options and enhance mobility in our communities. Governor Cuomo has prioritized the ability of all New Yorkers, especially those in disadvantaged communities, to benefit from his nation-leading clean energy and climate agenda, and in addition to providing an essential resource, this program will also inform research for ongoing and future mobility projects, helping to foster a healthier, cleaner and more resilient state.”
“The donation from Uber allows us to fundraise to make the Library program free to use,” said Galligano, “What we bring to the table is expertise in transportation on a national level, and a donation to the WNY region with assets totaling more than $1 million. We hope to work with foundations, the city of Buffalo and the city of Niagara Falls to complement our hard work to push for access to transportation as a human right, and not just a privilege to those who are already fortunate enough to have freedom of mobility.”
SMI initially entered the Western NY market by introducing Buffalo CarShare – a project that allowed underserved communities to access high-tech, clean, and affordable transportation. As per expectations, 50% of the CarShare members fell into household income brackets of $25,000 or less.
“The same idea that started with Buffalo CarShare rings true to this day in our organization – that shared transportation options should be tailored to accommodate the needs of the particular community it serves, and the communities that need more accommodating access to transportation the most are poor communities of color,” said Creighton Randall, Founder, Mobility Development Partners, a collaborative shared-transportation enterprise working alongside and in partnership with SMI. “The collective vision of both Shared Mobility and Mobility Development is a society where transportation is a utility, available to everyone like running water or electricity.”
Over the past ten years, both SMI and Mobility Development Partners have led projects totaling upwards of $50 million in funding for shared transportation options.
“We believe that access to affordable, healthy and environmentally-friendly transportation is a human right,” said Galligano. “Disadvantaged communities and communities of color have been getting the short end of the stick for too long. This is a huge opportunity to help a lot of people, and this is a huge opportunity for the NFTA and the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls to step up and make advances in transportation equity.”
Currently, SMI is looking for partners in this project to complement the significant donation in e-bikes with additional resources to ensure that Transportation Libraries will start and remain free to the public. Foundations, public agencies, and other funders are encouraged to contact email@example.com or call 716-407-7474. For more information on SMI and MDP, visit mobilitydevelopment.org.