Micromobility is everywhere.
Over the last three years, bicycles have gone completely mainstream and scooters have burst onto the scene. It’s truly an exciting time for those who care about transportation, cities and innovation. However, I’ve noticed a concerning trend: some, perhaps enthralled by rapid influx of venture cash and runaway speculation, have forgotten the entire point of it all.
The popularity of e-scooters, which are typically operated by mobility companies like Bird, Lime and Uber, has grown tremendously during the last year. Scooters, which do not require pedaling or much effort to use, are fast, efficient and great for short trips. While bicycles have a loyal (and rapidly growing) user base of their own, scooters tend to appeal to an entirely new group of city-dwellers, as they do not require pedaling or cycling skills to use.
While some cities embrace scooters (albeit, with strict limits), others are less enthusiastic. Here in the US, New York is the most prominent metropolis that does not permit dockless scooters.
This summer, many eyes were cast on the West Coast as Santa Monica and San Francisco came to grips with the sudden popularity of dockless e-scooter sharing. The cities quickly banned the operators of the vehicles, fearing a free-for-all, and then subsequent allowed only a relative handful to return. The main point of contention between regulators and the venture backed firms that operate the scooters is their relationship with sidewalk and public space; municipal leaders are concerned about bikes and scooters strewn across the streets, potentially causing a public hazard and nuisance.
On the other side of the country, in New York, a remarkable pilot is taking place in the heart of the city’s Downtown. At the end of September, Oonee, in partnership with the Alliance for Downtown New York will introduce a micro-mobility pod that will provide secure, weather-protected, parking for bikes and scooters. The service will be housed in a smart, modular, free-standing pod, which can be assembled on-site in less than a day and easily removed or modified. This innovative design approach also allows the structure to be customized to specific shapes and sizes in order to meet the contours of various urban spaces.
Within the course of my daily conversations, I often get asked about the need to create parking infrastructure for privately owned bikes– the assumption being that cyclists have, or will, switch over to CitiBike, the city’s wildly popular bikeshare system.
Though I am a huge fan of the bikeshare movement, it’s worth remembering that traditional private bikes still account for the vast majority of cycling trips within the city, as well as a large segment of market growth over the years, a reality that isn’t set to change anytime soon. Cities would be best to design infrastructure for both bikeshare and personal bikes.
Back in 2016, I bet it all on urban secure bike parking–specifically the notion that this was the next “big” amenity for urban streetscapes. Lots of people thought I was crazy, some still do, but recent industry developments and trends have only increased my confidence. The company I founded, Oonee, has created the first modular, smart bike parking kiosk that can be scaled in cities. We envision a vast infrastructure network that offers secure bike parking, as well as other services and amenities.
Below is a quick look at some of the dominant trends in today’s market along with some basic commentary on why the planets are continuing to align for this opportunity, especially for sponsors and marketers.
Cycling is poised to become a dominant mode of urban transportation in the United States. Since 2000, most major American cities have seen triple digit percentage increases in cycling trips; here in New York, the nation’s largest metropolis, cycling daily trips are increasing 11.2% every year. Similar trends are unfolding in Boston, Washington, Los Angeles and Chicago.
Yet, as cities invest in better roadway infrastructure and bikeshare, secure parking option have largely been ignored, leaving a major pain-point in the urban cycling experience. Surveys have shown that about 50% of current cyclists have experienced bike theft, while large numbers of commuters suggest that the lack of secure parking infrastructure is a key deterrent to choosing bicycles over other modes of transportation.
This week we officially raised the curtain on Oonee, a patent-pending pod that provides both secure bicycle parking and public space amenities. Oonee is designed to combine a modern, industrial design ethic with unparalleled opportunities for customization through a smart, modular framework.
In creating Oonee, we sought to craft an experience for everyone; cyclists, as well as those who’re just walking by or hanging out. Through a lengthy, iterative process, our project incorporated feedback from a variety of local stakeholder groups–including cyclists, residents, property owners, policy experts and business leaders.