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Micromobility refers to the practice of using a “micro” or “minimalist”, lightweight device to travel, such as a bike, scooter, or moped.

Micromobility refers to the practice of using a “micro” or “minimalist” device to travel, such as a bike or scooter. The “micro” aspect of the term micromobility refers to the vehicle and driver specifications. Micromobility vehicles are driven by the user themselves, as opposed to a taxi or rickshaw where the user is often merely a passenger. Initially, most micromobility devices were considered to weigh under 1,102 lbs., have a top speed of 16 mph, and were lacking an internal combustion engine. However, since the term micromobility’s creation in 2017, its defintion has broadened to include devices with internal combustion engines and significantly higher top speeds. Micromobility vehicles can be human-powered or electric, and can be privately-owned or available to rent through a company’s shared fleet. This practice is very popular in more urban areas where there are better transport connectivity and less personal vehicle ownership.

Shared Micromobility

The practice of shared micromobility involves a supply of vehicles available to individuals for temporary use. Generally, a companies’ fleet of micromobility vehicles is shared by the public, as is the case with Citi bikes or Bird scooters. Some businesses scatter vehicle centers across a designated locale where devices may be rented and returned. However, more commonly, companies function without centers, and instead disperse a population of lone vehicles. Shared micromobility vehicles are often used in conjunction with an app designed to facilitate customer payment, tracking vehicle location and battery, etc.

Pros and Cons

Micromobility reduces the use of cars and, in doing so, decreases greenhouse gas emissions. For riders, micromobility devices generally offer a more affordable alternative to using or procuring a car. Unlike buses or trains, micromobility vehicles often allow for greater flexibility in pick-up and drop-off locations. Furthermore, micromobility companies can track user data, such as location, time, etc., that may assist in future vehicle design or city planning.

However, as a result of the industry’s rapid growth, there are few strictly enforced restrictions or regulations that deal with vehicle quality and user responsibilities. Vehicles are left by users in random places, often blocking pedestrian pathways. The vehicles themselves can be known to have an unreliable battery life and may be quickly destroyed by bad terrain or street conditions. Unlike many other forms of travel, micromobility requires especially good weather conditions. In addition, while micromobility devices may be eco-friendly, they require batteries with short lives that must be replaced often.


In 2017 Horace Dediu held a conference, the Micromobility Summit, where he coined the term “micromobility”. He explained the term by comparing micromobility to the concept of microcomputing. Microcomputing describes a computer powered by a microprocessor. Such computing occurs on computers much smaller than the mainframe computers used at the time, and thus inspired the use of the concept “micro” or “mini”. Overtime, the original mainframe computers have fallen to the side, and today, the terms computer and  microcomputer are used almost synonymously. Horace Dediu made use of this analogy to convey his thoughts on the term and the future he predicts for the field: micromobility is to mobility as microcomputing is to computing.



Seattle becomes the first US city to establish a permanent set of requirements regarding shared dockless vehicle use.

In 2018, Seattle became the first US city to establish a permanent set of requirements regarding shared dockless vehicle use. The permit requirements included rules on a variety of issues, including bike design, parking, rider education, marketing, and data sharing.

The term “micromobility” is coined by Horace Dediu. 

In 2017 Horace Dediu held a conference, the Micromobility Summit at the Techfestival event in Copenhagen, where he coined the term “micromobility”. He explained the term by comparing micromobility to the concept of microcomputing.



Further reading


Challenges Caused by Increased Use of E-Powered Personal Mobility Vehicles in European Cities

Jurgis Zagorskas, Marija Burinskienė


December 30, 2019

Chapter 13 Sharing strategies: carsharing, shared micromobility (bikesharing and scooter sharing), transportation network companies, microtransit, and other innovative mobility modes

Susan A. Shaheen, Adam Cohen, Nelson Chan, Apaar Bansal



Defining micromobility and its potential to be bigger than autonomous vehicles

Megan Rose Dickey


October 1, 2019

Electric carsharing and micromobility: A literature review on their usage pattern, demand, and potential impacts

Fanchao Liao, Gonçalo Correia


December 25, 2020

Micromobility and public transport integration: The current state of knowledge

Giulia Oeschger, Páraic Carroll, Brian Caulfield


November 16, 2020

Micromobility: Industry progress, and a closer look at the case of Munich

Kersten Heineke, Benedikt Kloss, Darius Scurtu


November 25, 2019

The future of micromobility: Ridership and revenue after a crisis

Kersten Heineke, Benedikt Kloss, Darius Scurtu


July 16, 2020

The Micromobility Definition -- Micromobility Industries


February 23, 2019

What micromobility is and how it is shaking up urban transportation worldwide

Florian Richert


February 11, 2020

Documentaries, videos and podcasts





Rebecca Bellan
August 6, 2021
Micromobility startup Voi has raised $45 million, funds it says will be used to research and develop technology that will improve safety, keep users from riding on sidewalks and ensure scooters are properly parked. The funding comes a month after Voi launched a pilot in Northhampton, UK with Irish startup Luna to test how computer [...]
Mike Butcher
February 8, 2021
Micromobility startup Helbiz, which now operates across Europe and the USA, is merging with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) to become a publicly listed company, giving it a war chest to potentially roll-up smaller competitors in the space, as well as the resources to expand into "cloud" or "ghost" kitchens as part of a [...]


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