DOT Seeks Non-Manhattan E-Scooter Pilot Program – Streetsblog New York Metropolis

Kick it!

The Division of Transportation is now inviting e-scooter firms to function in New York Metropolis with a request for expressions of interest laying out the necessities to function in a metropolis that the businesses have had their eyes on for years.

The town stated it could choose the scooter firms on the next metrics, with security and operations and parking administration comprising 50 p.c of the grading system:

  • Expertise
  • Security
  • Operations and Parking Administration
  • Accessibility
  • Fairness and Outreach
  • Truthful Labor Practices
  • Shopper Safety

Mentioned pilot will happen solely exterior Manhattan, which was exempted from scooter-share under the state law that legalized e-bikes and e-scooters handed earlier this yr.

Scooter firms hailed the upcoming pilot — every touting its personal {qualifications} to get a key to the gold mine.

  • Lime’s Senior Director for Authorities Relations Phil Jones was fast to level out in his assertion that his firm has huge expertise.
    • “As we’ve discovered from working in world cities like LA, Chicago, Paris, and Rome, in addition to multiple hundred cities around the globe…” Jones started.
  • Superpedestrian, which operates Hyperlink scooters, mainly stated different firms don’t know what they’re doing.
    • “New Yorkers don’t should accept the hazards that e-scooters have dropped at different cities,” stated firm founder Assaf Biderman, touting his scooters’ “on-board, speedy geofence system that protects pedestrians by stopping parked scooters from blocking sidewalks and holding them from driving into components of town decided off-limits; “car intelligence system with over 70 sensors; extra sturdy, steady automobiles…than rivals; potential to function in additional boroughs and neighborhoods than any competitor; a neighborhood enterprise mannequin based mostly on full-time staff with advantages, not gig labor.”
  • Voi, which began in Stockholm, touted its “expertise working in additional than 50 European cities.”
    • “We all know what it takes to protect native character whereas enhancing mobility entry,” stated Co-Founder and CEO Fredrik Hjelm, promising that his firm‚ which claims it has been carbon impartial since 2020, “protects the sidewalk,” by offering “on-street parking racks, digital corrals, and exact geofencing”; makes use of cargo e-bikes to swap out batteries on its scooters; and would arrange a “site visitors security college” to coach would-be Voi-ers.
  • Spin additionally stated it “invests within the cities the place we function, partly, by hiring and paying our group members dwelling wages and advantages. The corporate has operated in Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
    • “Spin has the biggest in-house, versus a contractor based mostly, operations group within the trade,” stated Will Burns, head of Authorities Partnerships for the East Coast.
  • Chicken known as itself “essentially the most skilled and progressive world e-scooter operator within the trade.”
    • “Chicken will submit a proposal that prioritizes fairness, security, accessibility, efficient parking options and extra for all New Yorkers,” stated Senior Director of Authorities Partnerships Maurice Henderson.

Per the RFEI, the goal date to start out the scooter pilot is March 1, 2021, though DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg has cautioned that budget cuts may stop this system from beginning on time or in any respect within the de Blasio period, which ends on Dec. 31, 2021. The commish stated that the company continues to be coping with a hiring freeze and decreased working finances, which she stated may have an effect on the dimensions and scope of the pilot.

Clearly, it’s unclear which firm or firms will win, however the RFEI means that the DOT is searching for a accomplice that has operated in giant inhabitants facilities. One of many questions asks operators to put out their experiences in cities with populations over 400,000 individuals — and corporations which have are then requested to listing each demise, critical damage and authorized motion filed in opposition to the businesses since 2018.

The RFEI additionally asks firms about their labor practices, particularly whether or not they use gig economic system labor to do operations and upkeep work on their fleets. Chicken, a serious participant within the trade, was recently revealed to be utilizing an unbiased contractor-based fleet administration system that individuals stated left them mired in debt after laying out their very own cash to purchase scooters for which they might be accountable. One in all Chicken’s rivals, Hyperlink, tweaked the corporate in its personal press launch about leaping into town scooter recreation: “LINK employs full-time staff with advantages, and has by no means used gig labor.”

The RFEI additionally asks the businesses to element their plans for pricing their memberships or per-ride prices or each, and whether or not the businesses provide decreased charges for low-income customers, whether or not unbanked individuals can nonetheless hire scooters and the way the businesses will make sure the scooters can be found for individuals with disabilities and residents of public housing.

Trottenberg particularly stated that the DOT hoped to set new accessibility requirements with New York’s pilot.

“We hope to push the trade to suppose creatively about e-scooter design, and if doable, use the pilot to check new accessible e-scooter fashions,” she stated at a Metropolis Council listening to on Tuesday.

A separate RFEI for “ancillary providers” associated to the scooter pilot suggests the DOT is trying to take care of its staffing scarcity by bringing in exterior assist. That RFEI states that town is in search of firms “to mitigate adverse impacts of the pilot and optimize providers” by taking good care of points like “information aggregation and evaluation providers, on-street charging and parking distributors, secure using coaching programs, and scooter assortment and impound providers.”

Trottenberg alluded to that at this week’s listening to.

“The higher the geographic measurement, variety of scooters and variety of distributors, the extra a pilot will demand from company employees or a contractor,” Trottenberg informed the Council. “Completely different approaches for shared techniques utilizing metropolis streets require in depth metropolis sources. Designated parking areas require extra up entrance planning, refined information administration and evaluation, whereas a totally free-floating mannequin requires extra inspections, vendor administration and constituent criticism decision.”

Trottenberg additionally stated that along with the authorized prohibition on operating a scooter share system in Manhattan, the DOT goes to position the scooters exterior of the current and future Citi Bike service area, which provides scooter firms most of Staten Island, the north and east Bronx, japanese and southeast Queens and south and southeast Brooklyn, and stated that she feels there’s a tipping level for permitting too many firms to compete in anyone space of town.

“We’ve discovered from our dockless bike share pilot and seen in different cities that numerous operators competing in the identical territory vastly will increase the necessity for metropolis administration and oversight, and doubtlessly makes this system’s economics unsustainable,” she stated.

Nonetheless, an trade supply disputed that assertion and stated that scooter pilots around the globe don’t sometimes separate firms from one another. The town’s geographically diffuse dockless bike share model, wherein solely two firms at most operated in neighborhoods, has not led to a wider adoption of dockless bike share and petered out quietly.

Metropolis regulation may also come within the type of establishing one-size suits all parking system, as the principle RFEI states that the DOT “will choose a parking mannequin and outline parking necessities” earlier than the pilot begins, which an trade participant characterised as town “taking a robust hand” in setting the parameters of the pilot. The doc additionally lays out in no unsure phrases that scooter firms themselves are going to should be accountable for taking good care of scooters that block the general public right-of-way or pile up on in large numbers on one block or intersection.

And town may be taking a look at having an influence on scooter design past accessibility measures. The RFEI particularly asks the businesses to share their engineering specs — which places New York at odds with different cities, that are are usually agnostic about how the scooters are literally designed, an trade supply informed Streetsblog.

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