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SPARK’s Mobility Director Visits the Windy City

May 31, 2023 Mobility News
SUMC graphic
By Sarah Cicotte, Director of Mobility

I had the pleasure of attending the Shared Mobility Summit in Chicago this May and let me just say, those three days were priceless because I learned more than I could have imagined. The majority of my career has been very automotive-centric, so this summit hosted by the Shared Use Mobility Center (SUMC) was an amazing opportunity for me to look at mobility in a different light.

Mobility means much more than getting around in a car. Mobility is vast and is a movement—no pun intended—to improve the way we move people, goods, and services around the world with innovation, collaboration, inclusivity, and sustainability taking place at the cross-section of hardware, software, community, and planning.

I began this adventure by riding the Amtrak from Ann Arbor to Chicago. What better way to kick off my time at the Shared Mobility Summit than rolling in on a train? My favorite session at this summit was on Equitable Transit Oriented Design and how communities can thrive when everyone has access to transit options. This summit was full of engaging panels, breakout sessions, and field trips. I learned about Open Streets and Road Diets and how communities come together when you get rid of cars, creating safe spaces to walk, run, and bike. Most of all I learned how shared mobility builds community, increases access, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and nurtures opportunity. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? It paints a much different picture than thousands of people stuck in traffic in their cars all alone. As SUMC would say, “Shared Mobility For All!”

Why shared mobility? Here are a few reasons:

  • It’s popular! Did you know that across the globe only 18% of the population owns their vehicle? That’s right, shared mobility is more popular than private car ownership. Shared mobility is an experience, not just a way to get from one location to another. Shared mobility builds community and encourages human interaction.
  • It reduces greenhouse gas emissions! Shared mobility means fewer vehicles on the road, which means less carbon emissions. For cities and the country to meet carbon-neutral goals, increasing shared mobility is a necessity. More people need better, more equitable access to shared mobility and public transit.
  • It’s transportation reimagined! Imagine your city or town without the noise, congestion, and odor from vehicles everywhere. Many of us got to experience a taste of this during the pandemic. Downtowns closed their Main Street to allow people walk and dine in the streets. It was fun, different, refreshing, quiet, and clean! The federal government, through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Inflation Reduction Act, has activated remarkable funding to reimagine transportation, including very real commitments to addressing equity issues. In SUMC’s Benjie de la Peña’s words, “It is going to take everyone all together to make shared mobility the superior mobility option in the U.S. It’s a shared mobility planet.”

I thank everyone at SUMC for putting together such a wonderful, inclusive, thought-provoking summit where professionals gathered, learned, shared ideas, and left feeling empowered to invoke change in their communities.