It’s been 2.5 years since three mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) companies deployed their e-scooter fleets in San Francisco back in spring 2018. Since then, e-scooters have taken the world by the storm, quickly becoming a popular mode of transportation across the globe.
But this sudden transformation in how people get around cities has been fraught with tension between the service providers and the city governments … What’s clear is that they need to learn to work together if they want to make urban transportation better, safer, and more sustainable.
One key area that cities can assist here is the provision of infrastructure such as bike lanes that would allow e-scooter riders to travel safely. By way of illustration, Portland’s “2018 E-Scooter Findings Report” has shown that only 8% of riders use the sidewalk when there’s a dedicated bike lane available, which goes up to 21% when there’s only a street with a bike lane, and increases yet again to 39% when on a street without any bike facilities.
This means that providing an adequate infrastructure would not only make e-scooters a more attractive mode of transport and encourage their use, but also benefit pedestrians, e-scooter riders, and car drivers alike by ensuring that they all have separate spaces. Moreover, city officials should take time to understand the economic realities that mobility providers are dealing with and work together with them to find solutions that don’t threaten to suffocate their businesses.
When cities and private companies realise that they both serve the end consumer (regardless of why they are serving them) we can start to make the inroads we need on an exponential basis.