New Ways to Get Around Town
As times change, so do our modes of transportation. With the rapid growth of Lee’s Summit, the city is exploring ways to provide more efficient and user friendly modes of transport. An option, besides the traditional transportation systems that is gaining favor among many consumers, is a form of transport called micromobility. If you haven’t heard of it yet, you will be. The city of Lee’s Summit has made micromobility a part of the Draft Comprehensive Plan.
So what is Micromobility? Micromobility refers to a range of small, lightweight vehicles operating at speeds typically below 15 mph and personally driven by the users. Micromobility devices include bicycles, Ebikes, shared electric scooters, electric skateboards, shared bicycles, and electric pedal assisted bicycles. Some of the positive aspects of these devices are reducing the amount of traffic congestion and the physical footprint needed to move people over short distances. Also according to the US census, a growing number of people are abandoning car ownership, and according to the 2017 National Household Transportation Survey, more than half of the car trips taken cover less than five miles. Micromobility can provide these people a form of transport for short distances.
You might remember news stories a few years ago about two companies who brought shared electric scooters into Kansas City. Safety concerns arose as many scooter riders were using them on sidewalks. Time and experience has shown that micromobility is a transport that needs to follow established bicycle rules and is unsuitable for walking sidewalks. It is also unsuitable for roads used by cars and trucks due to the high speeds on these roads. Municipalities that have embraced micromobility have established policies, guidelines, and infrastructure that create an environment where these vehicles can safely coexist with cars and pedestrians.
As Lee’s Summit continues population growth, the need to provide easier, more efficient transportation is growing as well. All of the residents will need to navigate around the city. While mass transit is a part of this puzzle, so is getting people to and from mass transit—the first-mile/last-mile challenge. If people lack a convenient, affordable way to get on a bus, they are far more likely to opt for their own vehicle, contributing to the gridlock. Micromobility is one option to help get people to and from homes and increase mass transit access in Lee’s Summit.
Micromobility is not the only answer to gridlock, expense, and cleaner air, but it is a viable one with a growing demand. This is why Lee’s Summit has included micromobility into its Draft Comprehensive Plan.
This article was submitted by Jan Nelson, who is a member of the Livable Streets Advisory Board. The Livable Streets Advisory Board is a Mayor-appointed, volunteer board whose goals include working to make our community and our streets more "livable", safe and accessible for all of our citizens.