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Article

Reassessing the Role of Shared Mobility Services in a Transport Transition: Can They Contribute the Rise of an Alternative Socio-Technical Regime of Mobility?

Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB), Reichpietschufer 50, 10785 Berlin, Germany
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 8253; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12198253
Received: 2 September 2020 / Revised: 23 September 2020 / Accepted: 30 September 2020 / Published: 7 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Automobilities in the Mobile Risk Society)
Recent years have seen a proliferation of platform-based “shared mobility services” (SMS) such as car-, bike-, and e-scooter-sharing in many cities in Germany and around the world. At the same time, these services have become the subject of intense debates: Are they replacing private car travel, thus contributing to sustainable mobility in cities? Or are they drawing users away from public transit and cycling while obstructing public space? From the perspective of sustainable mobility politics, it seems far from clear which role these new services could play in transitioning to a less car-centric mobility system. While a number of potential effects and ensuing governance issues of shared mobility services (e.g., regarding questions of equitable access, data governance, the role of public versus private actors) have already been studied, this article explores the role of shared mobility services (SMS) in triggering system dynamics and feedback loops in the context of sustainability transitions. The article connects questions regarding the sustainability effects of “shared mobility services” with the role of “push” measures to reduce private car traffic in cities. Using a theoretical framework from socio-technical transitions research and from the sociology of technology, it describes the recent growth of shared mobility services in Berlin as an example of the upscaling dynamics of socio-technical niche innovations. Drawing on a series of workshops with mobility service providers and representatives of public authorities, it analyses the potential for conflict as well as for coalition-building between service providers and public authorities. Based on the theoretical concept of the role of feedback loops and windows of opportunity for transitions, it shows how the market growth of shared mobility services has added momentum to an already ongoing political debate over the legitimate use of public space in Berlin. Against this backdrop, the article discusses how growing numbers of car-, bike-, and e-scooter-sharing vehicles could open up windows of opportunity for re-distributing space away from private cars. The article concludes that supporting and regulating SMS will be key to steering their growth in the direction of sustainability. View Full-Text
Keywords: transport policy; sustainable mobility; shared mobility services; multi-level perspective; socio-technical systems transport policy; sustainable mobility; shared mobility services; multi-level perspective; socio-technical systems
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MDPI and ACS Style

Ruhrort, L. Reassessing the Role of Shared Mobility Services in a Transport Transition: Can They Contribute the Rise of an Alternative Socio-Technical Regime of Mobility? Sustainability 2020, 12, 8253. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12198253

AMA Style

Ruhrort L. Reassessing the Role of Shared Mobility Services in a Transport Transition: Can They Contribute the Rise of an Alternative Socio-Technical Regime of Mobility? Sustainability. 2020; 12(19):8253. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12198253

Chicago/Turabian Style

Ruhrort, Lisa. 2020. "Reassessing the Role of Shared Mobility Services in a Transport Transition: Can They Contribute the Rise of an Alternative Socio-Technical Regime of Mobility?" Sustainability 12, no. 19: 8253. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12198253

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Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

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