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.
Yesterday, a tragic accident in Manhattan claimed the life of a cyclist. Dan Hanegby, a 36 year old from Brooklyn, is the Citibike’s first fatality in its four years of operation.
The New York Times provides a summary of the accident below:
The New York Post is reporting that up to five dockless bikeshare operators are slated to begin operations here in New York over the coming weeks and months. The companies, which include Bluegogo and Spin, two companies that recently launched in the Bay Area with very limited success, are targeting portions of the region that are uncovered Citibike.
The tone of the Post’s coverage comes close to encapsulating the level of trepidation and concern that civic leaders have when it comes to these services:
After much initial hubub and curiosity, Bluegogo, a venture Chinese bikeshare start-up, announced it would suspend operations in the Bay Area market. The move comes amid heavy scrutiny from city officials, bike advocates and public space managers, especially with regard to the company’s somewhat notorious operational model, which consists of unloading tens of thousands of bikes into the urban streetscape, with little regard for how they’re organized or maintained.
Though company officials are maintaining a brave public face, this development can only be viewed as a substantial setback. San Francisco, with its bike-friendly and tech- forward culture, was viewed as one of the most promising locations for this new breed of bikeshare start-ups, and these early setbacks don’t bode well for future competitiveness in the market.
Here are five observations:
Recently when Bluegogo, a Chinese bikeshare company, announced plans for a Bay Area launch, public officials responded with a public smackdown. To the chagrin of public space managers, Bluegogo intended a repeat of their Chinese strategy; setting loose up to 100,000 bikes onto city streets, which would then become disorganized clutter on sidewalk racks. Citing this, city officials threatened to clip the company’s bikes and to, essentially, outlaw its operations. In response, Bluegogo resorted to a far more conservative operational model, but that hasn’t stopped the city from pursuing additional punitive measures, with the hopes of deterring copycats.