ICYMI: The Week in Micro-Mobility, March 8th Edition

ICYMI: The Week in Micro-Mobility, March 8th 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

It’s been another busy week in micro-mobility, especially regarding the economics of the fast-growing space. News includes an article by me on how operational excellence helps shared mobility providers achieve long-term profitability, the nightmarish “scooter economics” of Louisville (i.e., the opposite of long-term profitability), commentary on micro-mobility’s role in “the Green New Deal,” micro-mobility as job creator, and much more. Let’s roll!

On Monday, I published an in-depth ZBlog post about how Zagster’s Operations-as-a-Service platform benefits shared mobility providers. It isn’t just our operations playbook that delivers sustainable value, but also Zagster’s dedicated, talented people, as I explained: “If you increase the life of a scooter because an employee/community-member cares about assets instead of having freelance rebalancers mishandle them and thus shorten their lifetime value, that’s a massive cost benefit” for providers.

If you increase the life of a scooter because an employee/community-member cares about assets instead of having freelance rebalancers mishandle them and thus shorten their lifetime value, that’s a massive cost benefit

News from Louisville, KY supports our approach. According to Oversharing, a newsletter on the sharing economy, Shared scooters don’t last long there. The article’s brilliant, deep-dive analysis of ride-share scooters indicates that the average lifespan of a scooter is just 28 days (btw, Zagster doesn’t operate the Louisville program). With such short asset lifespans, scooter companies are losing money: “Let’s be generous and say the company paid $360 for each scooter . . . At the rates calculated above, that company only recoups $65 to $75 on the cost of each scooter—in other words, it loses $295 to $285 per scooter.” Louisville, we have a problem! Extending the life of these valuable assets via operational excellence is the best way to unlock sustainable profitability for shared mobility providers.

Shared mobility providers are increasingly moving away from bicycles and pivoting towards e-scooters all across the country, as a Bicycling Magazine article from this week explains. In Portland, OR, for example, riders took 700,000 scooter trips between August and November, 2018, while taking only 134,000 bike share trips.

We need to provide model legislation to the state that would allow us to govern these new [micro-mobility] uses in ways that will allow them to thrive while also ensuring our streets and sidewalks stay as safe as possible for all users.
— Craig Kelley, Cambridge MA City Councilor

Communities around the U.S. are currently working to implement effective regulatory frameworks to unlock the many benefits of micro-mobility, while addressing its challenges. In this guest column, Cambridge, MA City Councilor Craig Kelley calls for Greater Boston’s “urban four” (Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and Brookline) to work together “to make sure that regulating micro-mobility platforms like scooters and e-bikes is more successful than what happened when regulating Uber and Lyft. We need to provide model legislation to the state that would allow us to govern these new [micro-mobility] uses in ways that will allow them to thrive while also ensuring our streets and sidewalks stay as safe as possible for all users.” Zagster agrees!

John Lloyd (@boyonabike62) covers bicycling, transit, and sustainable cities from Southern California. He started a great thread on Twitter this week about climate change, the “Green New Deal,” and how micro-mobility fits in. Lloyd tweeted the following advice for communities: “Step 1: stop pretending cars are the solution, when they are a big part of a whole constellation of problems. Step 2: stop subsidizing sprawl and driving. Subsidize walking, biking (or other micro-mobility), and transit.” Like!

Urban equity efforts need ‘to involve players and stakeholders at all levels—local governments, anchor institutions, community-development organizations, labor organizations, and civic and neighborhood groups.’
— Richard Florida

Micro-mobility is also a job creator, as a new Forbes article explains. It describes five categories of employment for community-members and entrepreneurs, including charging/maintenance of micro-mobility assets, deployers/redistributors of those assets, branding, and more. Author John Frazer notes that we’ll see even more types of jobs created: “This list just scratches the surface of the opportunities that present themselves in the community-based micro mobility space.” Zagster’s proud to be creating career opportunities for the people we hire to grow with us!

Richard Florida has long been a leading global thinker on sustainable development. He wrote a must-read article in CityLab this week sharing his principles for sustainable urban development. Those principles include values we at Zagster hold dear, including community-based collaboration and a focus on promoting equity for underserved members of the community. As Florida explains it, urban equity efforts need “to involve players and stakeholders at all levels—local governments, anchor institutions, community-development organizations, labor organizations, and civic and neighborhood groups.”

Enjoy the ride this weekend, and see you next week!