What is “dockless mobility”?
“Dockless mobility” is a type of transportation in which a user is not required to “dock” a vehicle in a specific area after their trip is over. Dockless mobility typically refers to operations on a platform app. We are focusing specifically on E-scooters, however dockless mobility encompasses bikes, skateboards, and other forms of transportation that exist without the use of a docking station. These vehicles are accessible for a small fee to anyone who has an app to use them. They can be ridden from wherever they are picked up to the rider’s destination and then, once the rider ends the trip, they can be left out of the way of pedestrians for the next rider.
What is an “E-scooter”?
An electric scooter (“E-scooter”) is a one-person vehicle often used for short trips. An E-scooter can typically go speeds ranging 10-15 mph. The motor is powered by electricity instead of gas. A person stands on the E-scooter to ride it and controls the speed with the use of a throttle and brake on the handlebars. An E-scooter is, on average, 30 pounds and 1 foot wide, 4 feet long, and 4 feet tall. E-scooters can be bought and owned by consumers; however our focus is on more distinct situations where persons rent a E-scooter from a company using an app.
Both of these terms are used throughout the site and are not synonymous. An E-scooter is just one form of dockless mobility.
What is “micro-mobility?
“Micro-mobility” is a category of urban transportation that utilizes devices designed to carry a single individual for short distances and capable of using both pedestrian and road thoroughfares.
What is an “operator”?
A company providing E-scooter services in a city.
What is a “user”?
An individual who has unlocked an E-scooter and has the temporary ability to use it for transportation.
Who can benefit?
Most commuters who use public transit or work in areas with little parking near their destination face the “first mile, last mile” problem. Commuters in the United States claim that they are comfortable with walking less than ¼ of a mile to their final destination, roughly five blocks in New York City. For public transit users and drivers, this is the distance between the last stop of their bus or subway or their parking garage and the building where they work. Dockless mobility transportation technology like E-scooters contemplates bridging the distance between a location where a number of people can ride to via public transportation and each of their individual destinations. Lime Bike’s Year End Report showed that 40% of Lime users were going to or from public transit stations and 25% were on their way to shopping and entertainment.
In 2015, infrastructure, public safety, data and technology, and energy and the environment, were among the top 10 issues discussed by mayors in their State of the City addresses. These are all issues that dockless mobility companies are seeking to help cities address. Mayor Ralph Becker of Salt Lake City, UT said, “If we want a city that treats people fairly, we have to make sure there are opportunities for everyone to get around.”
These dockless technologies might decrease the amount of cars on the road, relieving traffic congestion and pollution from vehicles. It is a form of mobility that is accessible to those who cannot afford to own and maintain a car but would benefit from the access to transportation options.
Corporations like Bird, Lime, Skip and Spin are all profiting from the demand for a ride share industry to solve the last mile problem or simply as another fun way to get around town. The global E-scooter industry is worth 17.43 billion USD in 2018 and is projected to witness a CAGR of 8.5% during the forecast period.
Bird’s mission is “to make cities more livable by reducing car usage, traffic, and carbon emissions.” Lime’s goal is to create better access to mobility for a community as a whole. “Lime is founded on a simple idea that all communities deserve access to smart, affordable mobility. Through the equitable distribution of shared scooters, bikes and transit vehicles, we aim to reduce dependence on personal automobiles for short distance transportation and leave future generations with a cleaner, healthier planet.”
When will I be able to ride an E-scooter?
Shared transportation has been on the rise with the development of companies such as Uber and Lyft and docked bikes in cities around the world have started to be common sights. While docked bikes offer much the same convenience as mass public transit, rideshare options appeal when a smaller group has a specific destination. In 2017, companies started launching shared bikes and E-scooters that were not docked with a vision of helping commuters and city wanderers cover the first and last mile of their journey. Since then, they have quickly spread into cities throughout the country, either by obtaining licenses or by “guerrilla implementation.” This website uses the phrase “guerrilla implementation” to refer to the practice of operators implementing their E-scooters within a city prior to receiving approval from the city. For an example of this, see the case study on San Diego, California. Contrarily, some cities, in an effort to prevent “guerrilla implementation,” have issued out-right bans on E-scooters for a set period of time. For an example of this, see the case study on Columbia, South Carolina.
Where can I ride an E-scooter?
With the help of the investment of several billion dollar companies, E-scooter share schemes are becoming increasingly common throughout the country and the world. An E-scooter share scheme is a term used to describe a company which rents out E-scooters using an app. The E-scooter market includes some familiar big name companies like Uber and Lyft, which have rideshare platforms in almost every city. The market also includes large companies that are focused solely on bringing E-scooters to cities across the country. Bird and Lime are two large companies that are in cities nationwide. The market also includes small local companies like Zapp Rideshare.
The beauty of dockless mobility is that the companies and cities are not designating a predetermined pick up and drop off point, so users are free to ride right up to their own destination. Docked scooters and bikes created the same problems that public transit did, a fixed point for the end of the trip regardless of the ultimate destination. These are ideal for professionals who want to ride from the subway stop to work, from work to lunch, and then back to the subway station at the end of the day. They’re also perfect for tourists going from an iconic landmark to a museum and then on to dinner.
Most of the dockless mobility companies have a designated service area where the E-scooters are permitted by the municipality. Their apps come with a map of the service area and notify you if you leave it. Most cities require that the rider use bike lanes or the road and keep off sidewalks. E-scooters and bikes are in cities all over the United States and world, partnering with cities to improve transportation to and from public transit and into commerce, entertainment and tourism areas.
Why would I want E-scooters in my city (or not)?
E-scooters allows residents and tourists to get around the city faster and easier while enjoying the beauty of their city and decreasing pollution. Commuters want to get to their jobs more quickly and efficiently, tourists want to sightsee from the streets of the city, and residents want to arrive at their dining or entertainment destination via the scenic route.
“E-scooters would make about 16% more jobs reachable within 30 minutes compared to the number of employment opportunities currently accessible by public transit and walking alone.”
E-scooters are a helpful solution to the first-mile last-mile problem but cities need to have the proper infrastructure to support them as alternatives to walking or driving a car. Cities without bike lanes will need to educate drivers and E-scooter users on how to share the road. Cities without much space for designated parking areas such as bike racks will need to consider the fact that people will leave the E-scooters wherever is convenient, regardless of whether it’s an obstruction.
How can I bring E-scooters to my city? How can I block E-scooters from coming to my city?
If you’re here because your city wants to figure out how to bring E-scooters to your area, or how to convince your city that E-scooters are a bad idea, see our strategy page to look at the steps and consider the issues, problems, and solutions that we’ve identified.