Those of you who have seen Schoolhouse Rock's "I'm Just a Bill" may also recall the end where the bill becomes law and celebration ensues. While we don't have a catchy tune, we would like to provide our take on what might come next with the celebrated and historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, a $1.2 trillion package that has important implications for safe and sustainable transportation, including shared micromobility.
Throughout much of last year, Spin’s Public Policy team worked closely with members of Congress as well as senior staff in the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) to make sure legislators and staff understood the important role micromobility plays in changing the way people think about urban transportation, in getting people out of cars, and in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the root cause of global climate change.
And they listened. The ambitious package includes funding for safe street infrastructure, EV charging, public transit projects and other initiatives designed to create more sustainable, accessible, and less polluted cities, with micromobility being an integral part of the strategy to change people’s mindset and give people a viable alternative for short trips.
Earlier this year, The North American Bikeshare and Scootershare Association (NABSA) posted a thorough rundown of how IIJA provides new funding eligibility for shared micromobility and important safe streets infrastructure here.
We are looking forward to working with our city and municipal transportation organization partners to use these programs and funding streams to create infrastructure and subsidize important investments designed to help get people out of cars and into more sustainable modes of transportation.
We have long recognized the importance of working with cities and transportation agencies to make sure micromobility complements other modes of transportation in the communities we serve.
One way we’ve embraced this is by supporting the mobility hub concept with deployments of our Spin Hub micromobility parking/charging stations, including digital screens with real-time transit info and local wayfinding and safe-riding messaging. In Pittsburgh, Move PGH is a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership that will give residents access to a menu of diverse transportation options by bringing together public transit, scooters, bikes, and shared cars in a seamless experience all available online in Transit App and offline at our Spin Hubs. This is one of the most prominent examples of the mobility hub model in the United States, with a network of more than 20 locations throughout the city.
This sort of infrastructure makes multimodal trips smoother, less time consuming, and overall more convenient for people. With new eligibility for shared micromobility in the federally funded Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) and Surface Transportation Block Grant programs, cities can begin to think about how they can work with partners like Spin to create similar infrastructure that makes it easier for residents to travel for short journeys without their cars.
Universal Basic Mobility
With Move PGH, we have also begun to pilot Universal Basic Mobility, through which Spin is working with the City of Pittsburgh, local nonprofits, and researchers at Carnegie Mellon to provide free access to the Move PGH suite of transportation options for 50 low-income residents for one year while researchers measure the impact on participants’ economic mobility and health.
The assumption of this pilot is that transportation is fundamentally about access — to food, jobs, childcare, school — and low-income folks are disproportionately impacted by the cost and inaccessibility of transportation, especially in a system that has historically favored car ownership over other, more affordable transportation options.
With more funding available through IIJA, we hope to find opportunities to expand our Pittsburgh Universal Basic Mobility Pilot, and work with cities on similar projects to expand affordable transportation options to underserved communities.
IIJA sets aside a significant amount of funding for improving safe streets infrastructure, including construction of bike lanes and better pedestrian facilities.
At Spin, we have long understood that creating safe streets for all is essential to getting people out of cars and onto more sustainable modes. That’s why we have been investing in infrastructure – bike lanes, better sidewalks, and other physical improvements that keep people safe – through our Streets program.
Additional investment from the federal government means that our city and nonprofit partners will have access to more funding and can leverage those resources to create deeper investment in safer streets.
Build Back Better
While the Build Back Better Act has stalled, there seems to be support for a revised version with a particular focus on climate change. We are hopeful this will include something we advocated for and achieved in the previous version of the bill, which was an expansion of federal commuter benefits to include shared bikes and scooters. Effectively, this would offer a way to pay for commuting costs using shared bikes and scooters with tax-free income.
We are encouraged by the recognition at the federal level for the potential for micromobility as a means to achieving goals related to climate, equity, and access, and will continue to work with federal and local partners to make sure micromobility and sustainable transportation are centered in future investments.