Feel like you're caught in a frenzy of dockless bike- and scooter-share news? Us too. In Dockless Digest, Smart Cities Dive will round up the most important (and sometimes bizarre) news and trends affecting the dockless phenomenon to keep you up-to-date.
Is something happening in your city that didn't make the list this week? Shoot us an email at [email protected].
Skip and Scoot claim victory in San Francisco
The San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (SFMTA) on Thursday announced it will issue permits for its one-year scooter-share pilot program to Skip and Scoot due to the "strength of the proposals" and "their experience of owning, operating and maintaining a shared mobility service in the public right-of-way." The city had received 12 proposals total, including submissions from major scooter operators like Bird, Lime and Spin.
While this decision comes as a blow to those major scooter companies, it exemplifies the importance of communication — and simply playing by the rules. In April, the city had to issue a cease and desist to Bird, Lime and Spin after those companies dropped more than 1,000 scooters combined on the city's streets without permission.
Aside from prior conflict, those companies also scored a majority of "poor" marks in SFMTA's assessment of proposals, which evaluated safety, disabled access, equitable access, community outreach, labor, sustainability and experience. Scoot and Skip scored "fair" or "strong" marks in nearly all of those categories.
SFMTA says it will "assess the pilot’s effectiveness and company compliance through field observation, counts, citations issued, data received, complaints received and other measures" over the next 12 months.
Cincinnati and Charlotte, NC leaders call for crackdown
In the past week, local leaders in Cincinnati and Charlotte, NC have called for separate crackdowns on dockless bikes and scooters, both for safety reasons.
In Charlotte, City Councilman Larken Egleston called for rules to be put in place quickly, or else he warned that “[someone] will die on an e-scooter before the end of this calendar year,” according to WSOC.
Meanwhile, Cincinnati City Councilman David Mann said Bird should be held responsible for collisions, days after a rider on one of its scooters hit pedestrians in a crosswalk. Mann told The Cincinnati Enquirer that right now, companies “don’t have any real incentive to make sure this stuff doesn't happen.”
Santa Monica, CA selects 4 companies for dockless pilot program
Officials with Santa Monica, CA announced four companies — Jump, Bird, Lime and Lyft — will participate in its Shared Mobility Pilot Program, set to kick off Sept. 17.
Bird and Lime will both provide 750 scooters, with Jump and Lyft providing 250 scooters and 500 electric bikes each. “The selected companies bring a wide range of local, national and international experience that will contribute to a comprehensive and informative pilot program,” Santa Monica's director of planning and community development David Martin said in a statement.
Today, the City announced the selection of Lime, Bird, Lyft & Jump as the 4 operators to participate in the Shared Mobility Pilot Program starting on Sept 17. The program builds upon the City’s existing @BreezeBikeShare & expands local multi-modal options.https://t.co/iGdnmuKObe— City of Santa Monica (@santamonicacity) August 30, 2018
The move is significant for Bird, which first launched its scooters in the city less than a year ago and has experienced its fair share of ups and downs in the meantime. "We have a shared mission of reducing congestion and emissions, and look forward to continuing partnering with the City and to serve our community," Bird founder and CEO Travis VanderZanden said in a statement.
Scooters to return to Indianapolis
In an advisory posted earlier this week Brian Madison, the city's director of business and neighborhood services, said officials “believe a growing, thriving city should have a variety of transportation options for residents and will continue to work with Bird, Lime and any other companies that choose to do business in Indianapolis.”
Razor arrives in San Diego
San Diegans now have a new scooter option in the form of Razor, a Cerritos, CA company that will compete with Bird and Lime in the city.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Razor offered three free 15-minute rides to new users. “We are thrilled to be joining this vibrant community,” Danny Simon, CEO for Razor USA, said in a statement.
Columbus, OH sets rules, while Oklahoma City plans some
In the world of dockless rule-making, Columbus has moved to set new regulations while Oklahoma City is going down a similar path.
Columbus’ new rules, which went into effect immediately, limit dockless companies to 500 vehicles each and make it a requirement to obtain a city permit. And bikes and scooters cannot be parked in the public right-of-way on streets, including parking spaces and loading zones.
In a statement cited by the Columbus Business Journal, Columbus Mayor Andy Ginther said the regulations are “common-sense guidelines to manage right of way concerns as a first step to a thorough and thoughtful plan that works in our city.”
Meanwhile, Oklahoma City Council is considering a similar ordinance, after Bird dropped scooters in the city early this month. City rules would initially limit companies to 250 vehicles each, with a provision to expand that number by 25 if the demand is there.
It would also create a licensing system, and require the companies to remove their bikes or scooters within two hours if left on private property.
San Antonio, TX launches public survey on dockless vehicles
The survey comes ahead of the city’s dockless pilot program, with recommendations for that program and the survey results to be presented to the City Council later this year.
A similar survey in Austin, TX will close to responses today.
Cities are starting to explore places for people to park dockless bikes and scooters, with companies such as Zagster unveiling physical parking platforms and Denver’s Department of Public Works painting parking spots on its streets.
That idea seems to have caught on in Cincinnati, where Yard & Company has started spraying what it calls “Bird Cages” on the streets of downtown.
Some more pics from yesterday’s #BirdCage install. Big thanks to 3CDC for sanctioning and helping with the install. The parking was installed in @WashingtonPark, @ZieglerParkOTR & Fountain Square (not on sidewalks). #TacticalUrbanism #PutABirdOnIt pic.twitter.com/VXLyBKBpVy— YARD & Company (@buildwithYARD) August 9, 2018
“The goal was to spur creative thinking around how cities can smartly adapt and grow with new technology like Bird Scooters,” the company wrote on its website.