ICYMI: The Week in Micro-Mobility, March 15th Edition

ICYMI: The Week in Micro-Mobility, March 15th Edition

by Timothy Ericson

There wouldn’t be a Zagster if it weren’t for Timothy Ericson. As Founder and Chief Business Officer, Timothy is responsible for growing Zagster and reshaping cities with its nifty microtransit solutions. Also, if you’re looking for a wine recommendation, he’s your guy.

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Timothy Ericson

Founder and CBO

News from the micro-mobility space just keeps rolling in. This week’s highlights include the 2019 National Bike Summit, the inspiring story of Fort Collins, CO (one of America’s “top 3 cities for bicycling”), more analysis of scooter economics (a big focus last week), proposed tax incentives for shared mobility, and bike-friendly real estate development in Baltimore, and more. Let’s go!

Zagster traveled to Washington, D.C. (and nearby Arlington, VA) this week to attend the 2019 National Bike Summit, organized by The League of American Bicyclists. It’d be impossible to describe everything Zagster was involved with at NBS (expect a ZBlog post soon), but we wanted to offer two highlights: Jamie Gaskill, who we know well from FC Bikes in Fort Collins, CO (Zagster partners on the bike share program there) was recognized at NBS as “Educator of the Year.” We were also thrilled to see Vivian Ortiz receive the “Joyful Enthusiasm Award.” As Vivian said accepting the honor, “if we want to get more butts on bikes, we have to get more comfortable talking to all people about biking.” Yep!

As [shared mobility providers] compete for riders, they’re hunting for any possible edge in hardware and software, city relationships, and labor models.
— Wired Magazine

Speaking of Fort Collins, we chatted this week with some amazing people from that unique, bike-loving community. Our own Stacey Sebeczek just wrote a must-read ZBlog post about how Fort Collins became the #3 bike city in America while growing its Pace Fort Collins Bike Share. If you want to learn about how multiple entities within a community can collaborate to build a stellar shared mobility program, read the post!

Wired magazine just published an article about how shared mobility providers are moving away from using gig-workers, and are increasingly moving towards a full-time employment model.  As the author explains, “As [shared mobility providers] compete for riders, they’re hunting for any possible edge in hardware and software, city relationships, and labor models.” We at Zagster certainly love this “not new” idea, because we’ve learned from long experience that hiring and training great employees is the single best way to extend the lifetime value (and profitability) of shared mobility assets.

Forbes magazine also jumped into the discussion about the economics of micro-mobility with an article this week, New Mobility Worth Billions? Venture Capital Thinks So, written by John Frazer. He describes one shared mobility provider who deployed low-cost scooters in order to boost profitability: the move “was conducive to an astonishingly short break-even timeline,” writes Frazer, “but ended up being moderately disastrous because the scooters fell apart rapidly from simple wear-and-tear. Rough handling worsened the equation.” As the ol’ saying goes, “penny wise, but pound foolish.” Invest in operations to ensure sustainable ROI.

[Bike-friendly real estate] is likely to accelerate because many younger professionals don’t want to drive to work, and see walkability as a key reason to live and work in a city.
— Baltimore Sun

A proposed bill now in front of Congress, The Bicycle Commuter Act of 2019, would provide a tax break of up to $53 per month for people who commute to work by bicycle, people like our Albuquerque friend Jill Jerabek (see her inspiring ZBlog interview). The Act would also allow cyclists to deduct the cost of bike sharing from their taxes. We’re all for incentivizing shared mobility!

Another bill before Congress would create a pilot program to improve data collection to measure the employment impact of mobility investments. As a blog post from Transportation for America explains, existing data just doesn’t “provide sufficient information for agencies to make accurate decisions about what to build in order to best connect people to the places they need to go.” More and better data is definitely needed here, including on the impacts of shared mobility.

Sign an apartment lease, get a free bicycle. As this Baltimore Sun article explains, bicycle-friendly real estate development is growing and “is likely to accelerate because many younger professionals don’t want to drive to work, and see walkability as a key reason to live and work in a city.” It also makes life simpler for developers who don’t need to invest in expensive, space-consuming car parking infrastructure. While it’s great to see real estate companies adopting bike giveaways, our shared mobility programs have replaced many such programs because of abandoned bikes and the ability to provide a more premium shared mobility amenity.

Have yourself a great weekend, and see you next week!