ICYMI: This Week in Micro-Mobility, July 12th Edition

ICYMI: This Week in Micro-Mobility, July 12th 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

This week’s newsletter includes stories about the important advantages e-mobility vehicles have over self-driving and electric cars, how we ensure our rides are available when and where needed, e-scooters, the emergence of a legal and regulatory framework to support e-scooters, some new bike share launches in our markets, and the latest on shared mobility data. Let’s get rolling!

The Financial Times recently looked at two trends that promise to re-shape global mobility: autonomous vehicles (i.e., self-driving cars) and e-mobility (e-bikes and e-scooters). As FT technology reporter Tim Bradshaw explains in his insightful article, e-mobility is emerging much faster than autonomous vehicles (AVs) in addressing the needs of urban mobility: “both [AVs and e-mobility] are trying to solve many of the same problems: providing alternatives to traditional cars in order to reduce congestion and emissions.” Bradshaw describes how e-mobility is actually far ahead of AVs: “it could be another decade before we figure out if autonomous vehicles really work,” he writes, “by that time, e-bikes and e-scooters will be a familiar part of urban life.” At Zagster, our operations model is designed to support all kinds of transportation modes, whether they be self-driving or human-powered. We are ready for whatever comes next.

Zagster’s VP of Product Development Bob Mallon wrote a must-read ZBlog post this week on Using Technology to Improve Confidence in Micro-Mobility OPerations Via Vehicle Availability. Bob describes how essential it is for community members to have confidence that micro-mobility vehicles will be where they need them, when they need them, and describes exactly how Zagster deploys our Wrangler app and our people to make that availability happen. Having rides available and ready boosts user confidence and program usage, while a lack of availability does the opposite. As Bob explains, “high loss rates erode consumer trust in micto-mobilty program and can be a killer for mobility brands. If a rider finds that half the fleet is missing or damaged, they will likely go back to the traditional methods of transportation.” Zagster exists to ensure the right vehicle is available in the right place when users want them.

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A new study just released in the UK finds that electric cars aren’t actually the best transportation option when it comes to urban traffic or environmental impact, but electric bikes and e-scooters are. The study notes that the growth of electric cars will likely increase the number of cars on the road due to their lower cost to operate compared to gas-powered cars. This would result in further “car congestion,” an increase in car-related urban sprawl, as well as negative public health impacts. As a post at website Electrek explains, “electric bicycles and scooters have the ability to . . .counteract pretty much all of these negative consequences. E-bikes and scooters are affordable now. They are more efficient to operate. They reduce congestion. They reduce commute times. They increase physical activity. And they are simply fun.” That’s a pretty strong case for e-mobility over the electric (or any) car, in my humble opinion.

Always a great source for micro-mobility news, City Lab posted a new article about the need to create a workable legal framework for e-scooters as more cities approve their use. Written by attorney Jesse Halfon, the article describes widespread confusion among users and city regulators. As Halfon explains, “[n]avigating this legal terrain can be complicated. Between state laws, local vehicle codes, and agreements between cities and scooter providers, it’s still often unclear” what rules users should be following. Halfon blends an explanation of what’s emerging in terms of regulatory frameworks along with useful tips for e-scooter riders looking to operate legally (yes, wear that helmet). 

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Zagster and our community partners are launching multiple programs in Wisconsin this summer. We’re launching a ride share in Wausau on August 12. And we’re entering our second summer in Wisconsin Rapids: as Mayor Zach Vruwink says, “We find that our users are everyone from leisure bikers to those that are using a bike share for transportation to work.” Outside of the cheese state, we’re also launching a new program on Long Island, New York. As of Wednesday (July 10) Bethpage Ride has 100 bikes and 24 stations in 4 communities in Suffolk County (on Long Island). Summer’s ideal on two wheels!

Micro-mobility data is essential for communities planning where to put bike/e-scooter lanes. A new tool is now available to provide such data for infrastructure planning. Called Populus Routes, the tool “aggregates spatial data from multiple bike and scooter companies to deliver valuable, anonymized route data and help cities design and expand bike and scooter lanes where they are most needed,” according to a press release. At Zagster, we’re agnostic about vehicle types and we’ve built a digital platform (called Wrangler) that integrates internal and external data sources. We’re happy to see the proliferation of tools to help build the micro-mobility space. We know that ability for communities to access and leverage shared mobility data is important for the smart growth of micro-mobility.

Thanks for riding along, and enjoy your summer weekend!