Robin Chase

Shared Mobility Principles

During the course of my career, I’ve met and worked with some amazing people.

None of them holds a candle to Robin Chase. I use the term force of nature in describing her to other people. If anything, that’s an understatement.

She cofounded ZipCar and Veniam, has been on the boards of a number of environmental organizations, and gives some of the most inspirational talks I’ve ever heard. Now, she has combined a lot of those interests involving cities, transportation, the environment, and socioeconomic equality. You can get a glimpse of what Robin’s all about in general by thinking about the statement from her that accompanies the photo to the right.

A few weeks ago, Robin and her colleagues introduced a movement around what they call Shared Mobility Principles. Building off of her work on using technology platforms as jumping off point for building large scale social change, Robin has put together a formidable coalition of partners who have committed themselves to ten principles for developing transportation systems in the cities of the future. We will have to do so, because the promise of driverless cars, new residency patterns, shared work, and more will force us to redesign urban areas not just in the United States but around the world.

Rather than listing all ten of them which, of course, you can read with just one mouse click here, let me focus on the ones that are most germane for my work.

  • Prioritizing people over vehicles. How do we put people first rather than the construction of new highways and other transportation systems which I’ve seen rip apart city after city, including my home town.
  • Shared Use. Whatever the future looks like, we will have to find ways for us all to share public spaces, including transportation arteries, public buildings, and the like. More importantly, the new technologies we adopt have to be shared themselves. Put simply, does it do that much good if we start using self-driving cars that only have a single passenger the way things usually are in cities today?
  • Engage all stakeholders. As a peacebuilder, I’m particularly drawn to her realization that everyone has to be involved in the planning process, not just the professional planners. If we do that well, then we are also likely to end up with more peaceful cities as well as more efficiently managed ones.

Even more impressive is the coalition of groups Robin and her team has assembled. It includes many of the leading corporate players in urban transportation, including Uber, Lyft, Zipcar, and Via as well as some of the leading non-profits in the field such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Rocky Mountain Institute, and the World Resources Institute.

The principles were only launched ten days ago. Though it is out of character, there is no video yet of Robin talking about them, though you can see a power point deck she created that lays out the whole thing and includes a photo of one of my least favorite HOV lane intersection in the DC area.

So, it is hard to predict what will come of this. I do know that Robin will make something important happen, and I’m hoping we find a way for all of us to take part in which promises to be an important initiative.

We rarely get more than a couple of hours together, and I usually need a nap because I use up so much energy when we get together. That’s what happened last week when we met after she had given a talk in DC and wanted to share her new project with me. This time, she has outdone herself. Which is saying a lot.

Oh, and she’s also an amazing human being. After seeing me, she was dashing to New York to be with her daughter, Cameron Russell, who will soon make Robin a grandma for the first time.


Originally published at Chip Hauss.

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