We’re going to wish greater bike lanes.
As New York Metropolis will get able to arrange company scooter-share applications exterior of Manhattan, gross sales of privately owned e-scooters are skyrocketing by triple digits within the 5 boroughs, including one other transportation mode to the town’s more and more congested bike lanes.
Amid the spike in gross sales of the sunshine electrical transportation choice, advocates are warning that the town is operating out of room to deal with the extra visitors. The potential for battle is clear.
Go to any of the East River bridges and the already slender bike and pedestrian paths are full of a number of modes of transportation — legs, bikes, electrical bikes, scooters and e-scooters — transferring at totally different speeds. On a current Friday on the Manhattan Bridge, Streetsblog noticed a number of e-scooter riders on the bike path, together with a father guiding his baby on a standard three-wheeled child’s scooter. Day by day on the Queensboro Bridge, a single slender lane is utilized by walkers, cyclists and scooter riders in each instructions. Crashes happen each day.
Considerations over scooter-share applications are likely to give attention to the query of the place to park the dockless gadgets, which have cluttered sidewalks in different cities. However that concern ignores the larger one: New York Metropolis additionally doesn’t have the infrastructure to deal with an explosion of recent non-car transportation choices. The rising curiosity in e-scooters as a solution to get round New York, even earlier than firms like Fowl and Lime can begin native scooter-share applications, is placing stress on the town’s bike infrastructure, which was already creaking under an uptick in people on bikes.
“When Fowl or Lime will get right here, it’s going to blow up when it comes to utilization. What I fear about is just too many of those on the streets and never sufficient house to trip them. It’s been good for folks this summer season, there’s loads of house to trip,” mentioned Eric Levenseller, the founding father of New York Metropolis-based scooter firm Levy Electrical Scooters. “Folks will in all probability transfer out of the bike lanes and get into common visitors lanes as a result of there’s not sufficient house or they don’t really feel secure within the bike lane.”
Some intrepid scooter customers are already making that call, like this pair not too long ago seen scooting within the motorized vehicle lanes on the Williamsburg Bridge.
the persons are demanding extra micromobility lanes on the Williamsburg bridge pic.twitter.com/QJ65HosLsr
— Tom (@bicycult) September 22, 2020
Particular person homeowners of scooters and different micro mobility gadgets are loving the trip, even when they miss the larger image.
“I’ve had this for 3, 4 months now,” Brian Bonet mentioned about his Segway scooter on a current September afternoon after he rode throughout the Manhattan Bridge. “I take it to Borough Park and again. I dwell all the best way on the Higher West Aspect, this factor goes round 28 miles in vary. I simply crossed the bridge all the best way from Borough Park.”
Scooter riders had been an occasional sight on streets, bike lanes and bridges earlier than the electrical rides have been legalized generally in the state budget and then by the City Council in 2020, they usually’ve change into an much more frequent presence since legalization.
Scooter firms and retailers are reporting an uptick in curiosity as nicely this 12 months, pushed by each the change in legislation and a inhabitants that is still cautious of public transportation. A spokesperson for e-scooter firm Unagi mentioned that New York Metropolis gross sales of its product by way of the corporate’s web site elevated 312 p.c within the second quarter of 2020 in comparison with the primary quarter, and 549 p.c evaluating the second quarter of 2020 with the second quarter in 2019. The spokesperson mentioned that the rise amounted to going from tons of of scooter gross sales per 30 days in New York Metropolis to hundreds.
Native retailers say they’ve seen the identical sort of curiosity.
“Lots of people are coming in who’ve by no means owned a bicycle, however are on the lookout for different modes of transportation,” mentioned Levenseller. “Lots of people are utilizing them which have to return into work and don’t wish to take the subway.
“Enterprise has positively picked up considerably since April,” Levenseller added throughout a chat in Levy’s Decrease East Aspect storefront, claiming a 160-percent year-over-year improve since scooters have been legalized statewide in April.
A couple of blocks north at Paragon Sports activities, gross sales clerk Julian Maerwitz mentioned that gross sales on Unagi scooters have been brisk for the reason that retailer was capable of restart its retail operations in the course of the summer season.
“We’ve offered plenty of these because the demand picked up from COVID,” he mentioned, placing the variety of scooters offered at round 30. “They promote nearly instantly as they arrive in.”
Scooter riders round Manhattan ranged from the skilled riders to newbies, however each occasions mentioned that they selected e-scooters to be able to keep away from the bus and subway.
“None of us desires to take the subway so we’re both getting electrical bikes or scooters,” a scooter consumer named Jae, who declined to offer her final title, mentioned about her and her co-workers within the Meatpacking District. “I’ve positively seen extra folks on these since I purchased my first one three years in the past.”
Sebastian Brecht, a chef within the East Village, mentioned he switched from a motorcycle to a scooter to commute from Crown Heights.
“I used to be using my bike for a lot of months however it was laborious on my physique,” he mentioned. “I didn’t wish to purchase an electrical bike since you’re nonetheless sitting down on it, and I don’t like happening public transportation. I haven’t been on it in 5 months or extra.”
Advocates say they welcome any new transportation choice that will get folks out of vehicles, however that the town authorities has to begin serious about the bike and scooter visitors of tomorrow, as a substitute of the visitors patterns of the previous.
“Designing bike lanes for the visitors we had within the 2010s quickly received’t be sufficient to deal with the bike visitors of the 2020s,” mentioned Transportation Alternate options spokesman Joe Cutrufo “The variety of folks getting round on two wheels has shot up, not simply with the pandemic-fueled bike growth, however the continued development of Citi Bike, and shortly scooter share. The following administration might want to broaden not solely the community of protected bike lanes, but in addition the width of protected bike lanes.”
Extra scooter customers doesn’t simply need to be a battle level for pedestrians and other people on bikes although. As former Lime Bike Chief Packages Officer Scott Kubly pointed out to Streetsblog in 2018, scooter riders will finally be like bike riders — and demand extra space for his or her sustainable transport mode.
“If scooters have a decrease barrier than bikes, however riders need the identical safety that bikers do, doesn’t that construct a bigger constituency for higher bike lanes?” Kubly rhetorically requested.
Two years later, scooter retailers and riders are echoing that 2018 prediction.
“In the long run cities want to consider having totally different lanes for light-weight electrical autos like this, particularly in the event that they’re going to be going sooner than bikes,” mentioned Levenseller.
Bonet, who mentioned that he rides his scooter in Midtown, mentioned that the present bike lanes in Midtown have been hazardous already, and that the small little bit of the curb being taken away from vehicles was additionally complicating issues for riders.
“Sixth Avenue and Eighth Avenue, these are busy industrial streets they usually get sort of troublesome to navigate when persons are parked within the bike lane, strolling within the bike lane. And these new exterior diner pop up issues that take up parking areas and bike lanes as nicely, it’s sort of a trouble, so perhaps somewhat extra room could be good,” he mentioned.
Multiple City Council members have expressed interest or support for scooter share in recent times, however the Metropolis Council nonetheless hasn’t had a lot in the best way of a dialogue about making the streets secure for scooter customers. Queens Council Member Costa Constantinides expressed help for micro-mobility lanes and the concept of tilting the streets from automotive dominance to one thing extra bike and lightweight electric-friendly, whereas he watched Fowl scooter demo held at Astoria Park in late September.
“It’s downside to have that we’ve too many individuals utilizing the bike lanes, however multimodal transportation requires us to do extra,” Constantinides mentioned. “I’m not against that in any respect. As somebody who simply went by way of a summer season the place my lungs have been weak from COVID and the docs mentioned, ‘Exit for a stroll’ when it was 95 levels every single day with oppressive humidity, the place was I going to go? We’re dwelling in local weather change now, and if we don’t act to create choices for emissions-free transportation, what are we doing?”