ICYMI: This Week in Micro-Mobility, March 22nd Edition

ICYMI: This Week in Micro-Mobility, March 22nd 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

As we welcome the arrival of Spring, the big news in Micro-mobility this week involves the announcement of Zagster’s new partnership with Spin. I’ll catch you up on all the details, before moving on to: nine principles for driving micro-mobility from the UK government, how communities are increasingly looking for collaboration with shared mobility providers (a podcast), how artificial intelligence is making shared mobility more efficient, and more. Let’s ride!

There’s an African proverb that says, “if you wish to go fast, go alone; but if you wish to go far, go together.” At Zagster, we “go together.” On Tuesday, Zagster and Spin, backed by Ford Motor Company, announced an exciting partnership to bring scooter-share programs to 100 cities and campuses by end of the year.  We’ll be leveraging our turnkey micro-mobility operations platform to ensure fleet availability, operational efficiency, safety measures, and uniform protocols—all with our community-driven, “go together” approach.

“[W]e’re excited to count Zagster as an official partner,” Spin said in their release, adding that operations “may not be the flashiest side of the micro-mobility industry. But instead of flaunting astronomical growth numbers [“go fast”], we would rather commit to investing in a behind-the-scenes infrastructure, one that will make our riders safer in the long-term.”

On Wednesday, Zagster announced that it will be adding the Spin scooters to its existing Pace bike sharing program in the Knoxville, TN. “We look forward to extending our partnership with Zagster,” said Kim Bumpas, President of Visit Knoxville. “We’ve seen amazing success with Pace Bike Share and anticipate the Spin scooters to be welcomed by our community with similar excitement.”

New mobility services must be safe and secure by design; [d]ata from new mobility services must be shared.
— UK Government report

Earlier in the week, Adrian Albus, Zagster’s VP of Markets, published a must-read ZBlog post explaining How Operational Excellence Benefits Our Community Partners. As Adrian makes clear, Zagster seeks to collaborate with communities in customizing the right shared mobility program for the unique needs of every single community. “There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to transportation,” writes Adrian, “For example, if a community program is more about urban transportation, we ensure that a large percent of our fleet is made available in the downtown area. If it's more about recreation and wellness, we recommend a higher ratio of pedal bikes, and position them at trail networks. We build the solution collaboratively around each partner’s needs.”

The UK government has just released a 78-page Future of Mobility report that outlines its strategy and nine principles for shared mobility. The principles include: “new mobility services must be safe and secure by design”; “[d]ata from new mobility services must be shared,” and approaches to shared mobility must be inclusive. What’s even more impressive is the report’s humility: “we do not have all the answers now. Our approach will need to adapt over the coming decades.” That’s true for all of us in the fast-paced micro-mobility space, but being guided by values helps.

According to Asher Meyer, a Montreal-based transit analyst writing in The RideShare Guy, it’s getting easier to build a scooter company. Why? Because the components needed are increasingly modular, meaning you can outsource functions like hardware/vehicle design, logistics software (at Zagster, we call ours “Wrangler”), a user app, and the development of strong relationships with communities (Meyer calls this “lobbying,” though at Zagster we know that building strong relationships with communities goes way beyond lobbying for permission to operate).

AI can give micro-mobility companies the ability to predict rider patterns so that they can improve the availability of bikes at the right locations
— Alexandre Gonfalonieri

We came across a terrific Construction21 podcast this week about regulating micro-mobility, where Katie Fehrenbacher from Greenbiz talks with, among others, Seleta Reynolds from the Los Angeles DOT and Ryan Russo from the Oakland DOT.  What comes across clearly from this conversation is that communities are looking for shared mobility collaboration to manage several key tasks, including leveraging shared mobility data, crafting regulatory frameworks, and rolling out safe infrastructure for micro-mobility.

Artificial Intelligence/AI and machine learning are everywhere these days, including being used at Zagster to optimize our operational efficiency. AI expert Alexandre Gonfalonieri wrote an in-depth Medium post this week on How AI will drive profitability in Micro-mobility, which offers this key insight: “AI can give micro-mobility companies the ability to predict rider patterns so that they can improve the availability of bikes at the right locations . . . Through AI, it becomes possible to ensure that bikes are available where they are needed.” At Zagster, we’re already using AI this way.

Enjoy the first weekend of Spring, and see you next week!