Shared-use mobility, as defined by the Shared-Use Mobility Center, is a term used to describe transportation services that are shared among users, including public transit; taxis and limos; bikesharing; carsharing (round-trip, one-way, and personal vehicle sharing); ridesharing (car-pooling, van-pooling); ridesourcing/ride-splitting; scooter sharing; shuttle services; neighborhood jitneys; and commercial delivery vehicles providing flexible goods movement.
The Center has developed a comprehensive Shared-Use Mobility Reference Guide for use by government, business, and community leaders to address the rapid changes taking place and opportunities emerging in cities and states across the nation.
The focus on shared transportation as one of the focal points for examining the growth in new emerging transportation occupations and career paths follows the tremendous growth in recent years in the build out of shared use systems in cities and towns, on campuses and across regions, addressing increased interest in new urbanism and the need to address environmental, energy, and economic challenges. Advances in “smart” technologies have increased our ability to share resources efficiently and create seamless linkages between multiple modes.
Shared transportation services are innovative responses to the demand for new options, and offer an opportunity for communities to:
- Provide more mobility choices
- Address last mile and first mile solutions
- Reduce traffic congestion
- Mitigate various forms of pollution
- Reduce transportation costs
- Reduce fossil fuel consumption
- Reduce pressures on parking spaces
- Improve efficiency
- Identify choices for those who cannot afford to buy and maintain a vehicle
As an area of growth in both investment and employment opportunity and growth, the project researchers determined that a deeper exploration of the field overall and the specific modes would yield information on emerging competencies and skills that inform multiple career pathways. The first exploration looked at Bike Sharing systems.
Bicycle Share Systems are Growing Career Pathways
Active transportation has become an attractive urban travel mode, responding to rising concerns with environmental sustainability, automobile traffic congestion, and obesity rates. In its efforts to support active transportation, the U.S. Department of Transportation advocates for its agencies to work on “reducing distances between key destinations and providing and improving bicycle and pedestrian facilities.” 1 One reflection of the new seriousness around bicycles as a form of transportation is the expansion and growth of bike share companies and programs around the country (119 cities with more than 4800 stations/hubs).2 These bikes and bike share systems need regular, quality maintenance and repairs in order to remain a viable transportation alternative, creating new career pathways for professional bicycle mechanics, assemblers, and technicians able to work on bike share system technology and maintenance. Bike share systems and careers also link directly into the Smart City movement,3 and expansion of smart technologies in urban planning and design.4
The Bikeshare industry offers career opportunities for a variety of learning types – those who are mechanically inclined, those who like to work with people, as well as folks who like to analyze and solve problems, employing both people skills and technology. While a typical entry-level bicycle mechanic position requires only a high-school diploma or its equivalent, most also require a base level of bicycle mechanic experience. Those interested in a career in the bicycle industry can step into the field through training and certificate courses at any number of bicycle mechanic institutes.5 Embedded in the career pathway are positions at community bicycle shops that offer Earn-a-Bike programs to income eligible youth, high-school students, those working toward a high-school equivalency, disconnected youth, and those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The Earn-a-Bike programs are bike mechanic training programs that – in the end- offer its students a bicycle as part of the training process. Finally, there are bike mechanic apprenticeship opportunities at various bike shops and institutes.6
Once a worker has bike mechanic training, the next step is getting a job to gain valuable work experience. Due to the tremendous growth in bike share systems in the past decade there are increasing numbers of job available along the career pathway. Currently, the ten largest bike share systems in the U.S. have over 25,000 bikes in service, with a total of over 34,000 bike share bikes across the United States. It is no surprise to see that the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) from 2015 show a projected increase of 22% in bike mechanic jobs between 2014 and 2024. The median annual wage for a bike mechanic is $27,470 and a mean hourly wage of $13.41.7 As bike share technology advances, it is important for mechanics to stay on top of those changes as IT-bike sharing expands to include “electronic and wireless communications for bicycle pickup, drop-off, and tracking. These technologies are important to public bike sharing’s recent expansion in both locations and scale.”8 With additional training in information technology, solar power, and e-bikes within the bike share positions, there is flexibility to move laterally and vertically through the bike industry.
A trained bike mechanic can step into a wide-range of career pathways in the bike industry.9 The growing trend, however, is in the bike share industry, where a technician can find work, receive additional training and move up through the ranks to a fleet operations manager or bike share implementation specialist. The intersection of bike share with multi-modal urban planning, Smart City build out and contributions to economic growth and advancement of social equity make it a growth field for new careers and jobs.