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Bringing it all together: bike-sharing, car-sharing, ride-sharing and more

Updated: May 24



Imagine using the same card to ride a Metra train, rent a Divvy bike and hop on a CTA bus. Instead of worrying about managing multiple cards, navigating the options at the bike kiosk, or using the Ventra reader, you simply swipe your card and seamlessly move between transportation options as you need them. Achieving this kind of vision is one of the possibilities that results from integrating transit options. And that type of integration is the focus of the Shared Use Mobility Center (SUMC).


Started last year, the organization's mission is to connect industry, government and community groups and accelerate the growth of shared mobility for all transit modes. I recently interviewed Sharon Feigon, Executive Director, to learn more about SUMC's impact on expanding mobility



What inspired you to start SUMC?

I was the CEO of iGO car sharing which started car sharing in Chicago. We grew from a pilot project to serving 45 neighborhoods with 16,000 members. Eventually we sold iGO to Enterprise Holdings. Some of the proceeds from that sale have funded SUMC to carry on the original mission of iGO which was to live well without owning a car.


With SUMC we decided to start a business that would connect all of these transit options by working on research, policy and bring people together.


What are some of your pilot projects?

We are introducing electric car-sharing to low income neighborhoods in Los Angeles, which is being funding by Cap and Trade dollars in California. (see sidebar on Cap and Trade). In California companies pay into a fund to reduce emissions. The goal of this project is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by introducing electric car-sharing into disadvantaged communities.


In Chicago, we are working with Getaround, which runs a peer-to-peer car-sharing service. You make your own vehicle available (for a fee) to others. It's a type of car-sharing for private vehicles. Most cars are only used for a small portion of the day. This service is a way to put your car to work earning income when you are not using it, and reduce the need for more cars.



Can you comment on bike trends in Chicago?

Chicago has a really great bike community and Divvy is a very exciting addition. I believe they are now the largest in the nation in terms of bike stations. One of the interesting things they are doing is determining how to make Divvy bikes available in poorer communities and expand the scope of coverage.


I think this is a trend across the country for most of these bike-sharing programs which start in the core of a city and expand outward. If we are going to really use bike-sharing as part of the "last-mile" solution, then we need to open it up to a broader cross section of the community.


Building good bike infrastructure is important as well.. There are a core of people who will ride no matter what the conditions and maybe that's 3% of the population. If you add a bike lane the number of people riding will increase. But if have separated bike lanes, participation increases dramatically because it addresses peoples' safety concerns.


Is safety the biggest barrier to adoption?

Overcoming safety is important, but there are a variety of factors. There are whole segments of the population who don't think of biking as something they do. The more options you have for transportation, the easier it is to think about not owning a car.


In addition to the health benefits riding a bike is one of the fastest ways to get around., especially in a congested city, And it also works well with public transit. For example, people can use public transit to get close to their job and then use the bike for the last segment.


How can someone learn more?

If you are interesting in learning more, SUMC is hosting a national conference, the National Shared Use Mobility Summit in Chicago on Sept. 28-30. The event will feature a series of interactive, hands-on sessions with influential mobility leaders as well as advanced practitioner break-outs. The conference will be conducted in partnership with the North American Bike Share Association’s (NABSA) 2015 Annual Meeting.





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