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Micromobility is a category of modes of transport that are provided by very light vehicles such as electric scooters, electric skateboards, shared bicycles and electric pedal assisted, pedelec, bicycles.
Micromobility is a category of modes of transport that are provided by very light vehicles such as electric scooters, electric skateboards, shared bicycles and electric pedal assisted, pedelec, bicycles.
( Source: Public Domain / Unsplash)

Micromobility A macro-glossary on micromobility

| Author/ Editor: Erika Granath / Erika Granath

Novel names and abbreviations are hallmark features of the language of the mobility of tomorrow. We'll explain the most important micromobility terms.

When you're driving a car, riding a bicycle, or boarding a train, you can probably easily explain what means of transport you're using.

In the new mobility era, where trends like micromobility, shared mobility, and connected mobility are playing an increasing role, it's not that straightforward.

New mobility offerings have come with a series of new terms.

Let's take a look at the key micromobility terms you should know.

Micromobility from A to Z

Axa

Dutch frame-/smart-lock manufacturer. Axa In's electronic ring lock is available in two versions. A Bluetooth low energy version that users can open with an app on your smartphone, and a wired version that can be connected to a person's existing on bike IoT device.

Backend

The part of a fleet share software that the owner uses to manage user data, vehicle data, payments, etcetera. The backend provides operators with a real-time overview of relevant fleet data and rentals.

Bird

One of the largest e-scooter rental services in the world. The California based micromobility company operates shared dockless electric scooters in over 100 cities in Europe, the Middle East, and North America.

Bluetooth

Wireless technology standard used for exchanging data between fixed and mobile devices over short distances.

C.A.S.E.

Acronym that stands for Connected, Autonomous, Shared, Electric. It describes where the future of (micro) mobility appears to be heading.

Coverage area

In the context of micromobility, coverage area refers to the geographic area within a region where a fleet share offers its vehicles for use. Also called service area.

Deck

The part of an electric scooter where the rider stands.

Dock

The area where shared vehicles need to be picked up and left; a form of shared mobility parking space out of which fleet share companies offer its vehicles for use. Port is another word used to describe the same thing.

Dockless

A dockless system is a system that doesn't require a docking station. Dockless bike-share means that the bikes don't have a fixed home location but are instead dropped off and picked up from arbitrary locations in the service area.

Electric mobility/Electro mobility/E-mobility

A general term for the development of electric-powered drivetrains designed to shift vehicle design away from the use of fossil fuels and carbon gas emissions. The term includes fully electric vehicles, as well as hybrid electric vehicles and those using hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Electric scooters

Purely battery-powered scooters.

First/Last mile

Bus and rail services often form the core of a trip, but users complete the first and last portion on their own. For example, they must first walk or drive to and from the nearest station. This is referred to as the first and last mile of the user's trip, or "first/last mile" (F.L.M.) for short. Actual distances vary by trip.

Fleet density

The ratio of the number of vehicles in a fleet based on the population in the coverage area (typically calculated on a per 1,000-person basis).

Fleet management software

Software (mobile apps and backend) used to enable a fleet share via a rider's smartphone.

G.D.P.R.

An acronym standing for "General Data Protection Regulation." This regulation within the European Union dictates the guidelines for how user data must be stored to ensure security.

Geofence

A virtual perimeter for a real-world geographic area. In the context of micromobility, a geofence is often the digital boundaries created within a software platform that demarcate a coverage area.

Gig economy

A free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements. In the context of fleet share, the as-needed services of individuals to collect, recharge, and rebalance the vehicles associated with a fleet.

Hardware agnosticism

A platform's ability to integrate with different hardware (either from different manufacturers or associated with different modalities of transportation) without suffering compatibility issues.

Hoverboard

A common term for a self-balancing scooter, though strictly speaking such devices do not hover.

Internet of Things Device/IoT Device

An electronic device that connects something to the internet. In the context of micromobility, it will transmit geolocation, real-time battery level, etcetera, depending on the vehicle and its connection to it.

Lime

Lime's electric scooters and bicycles are available in 30 countries. The California based company is the largest of its kind.

Mobility as a Service/MaaS

The integration of various forms of transport services into a single mobility service accessible on demand. MaaS describes a shift away from personally-owned modes of transportation and towards mobility provided as a service.

M.D.S

An acronym standing for "Mobility Data Specification." A project of the Open Mobility Foundation (O.M.F.), is a set of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) focused on dockless e-scooters, bicycles, and carshare.

Micromobility

A category of modes of transport that are provided by very vehicles no more than 500 kilos.

Microcar

A term for the smallest size of cars, with three or four wheels and often an engine smaller than 700 cubic centimeters.

Mobile app

A term familiar to most in this day in age. In the context of micromobility, it's a smartphone app that enables a rider to unlock and utilize a vehicle on an enabled fleet share.

Modality

The type of vehicle associated with a fleet share, for example, bicycles, electric bicycle, electric scooter, etcetera.

Monowheels

A monowheel is a one-wheeled single-track vehicle. Unlike riders of unicycle, monowheel riders either within it or next to the wheel.

Multimodal

A journey involving the use of multiple modes of transport, for example, e-scooter and bus. Also known as combined transport.

M.O.Q.

An acronym standing for "Minimum Order Quantity."

(Fleet) Operator

The person, company, or government that owns and manages a shared fleet.

Permits

In a micromobility context, the permit granted by a municipality or government to allow operation of a fleet share within a set geographic area. Unfavorable regulations are one of the biggest hindrances micromobility faces to reach complete adoption.

Rebalancing

Refers to moving/redistributing vehicles in a service area to ensure that each hub has an optimal number of units based on the expected demand.

Segway

A two-wheeled, self-balancing personal transporter. The name 'segway' its name is derived from the word "segue" which literally means "follows."

Service area

Same as coverage area.

Shared mobility

Refers to the shared used of a vehicle, bicycle, or other transportation modes. Shared mobility is an umbrella term that encompasses a variety of transportation modes; care-sharing, bike-sharing, peer-to-peer ridesharing, on-demand ride services, to name a few.

Smartlock

An electronic lock that can be locked and ulocked with an authorized device using a wireless protocol and a cryptographic key. In a fleet share context, a smartlock the electronic lock attached to a bicycle or scooter that enables the use in a dockless bike-share platform.

Station

A type of micromobility vehicle parking lot. A collection of docks that serve as a parking area for a fleet share.

Stem

The upright portion of an electric scooter that holds the handlebars.

Suspension

The suspension of the electric scooter, like that on motor vehicle or bicycle, helps to improve the ride quality and dampen bumps in the road.

Unicycle

A vehicle that touches the ground with only one wheel. An electric unicycle (generally abbreviated as EUC) is a self-balancing personal transporter with a single wheel. The rider controls the speed by leaning forward or backward and steers by twisting the unit using their feet.

Uptake rate

In the context of fleet share, uptake rate refers to the percentage of individuals within a coverage area that use a fleet share system.

Wallet

An account where fleet share users purchase "credits" needed to ride the vehicles included in a shared fleet.

Z-Floater

The Z-Floating pilot at Lisbon technical Polo, involved 30 electric scooters that were free for the employees of companies based in the park and to the collaborators and students of the European University nearby.