The New Transportation Gig: Electric Scooters


(Preet) #1


Bird scooter in SF. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

A recent emerging transportation solution is the electronic scooter. It started out quite innocently in San Francisco but spiraled out of control when more and more companies joined the streets, cluttering them up with unattended scooters and causing he city officials to fume.

Bird is one such company; it has a fleet of electric scooters fitted with a GPS tracker that allows customers access to the scooter via their app. Bird is a start-up founded and managed by a former Uber and Lyft executive. Bird entered the streets of SF two weeks ago, amid a fanfare of PR and a statement that they will work together with city officials.

Two weeks later, Bird, as well as two other electric scooter start-ups LimeBike and Spin received a letter from City Attorney Dennis Herrera, stating that they should cease and desist their operations in SF since they "create a public nuisance and are unlawful."

All three companies have two weeks to meet changes that the city of SF demands, and these must be accompanied by an end-of-the month progress report.


Bird and Spin scooters in SF. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

GPS Electric Scooters

This new craze, of GPS-enabled scooters and bicycles, has become a national infestation, where companies provide access to staging areas for quick transportation solutions in cities around the US. Since these transportation devices were not regulated before, cities and states are now all working furiously to create regulations that will regulate the use of them in ways that are both safe, clean and lucrative to cities. The SF board of supervisors passed a bill last week in which they require electric scooter rental companies to get city permits. A similar temporary bill is about to expire in Washington D.C.

Bird and LimeBike are the two largest companies operating in the U.S., and they provide a rental platform through an app that unlocks the bike and scooter for use. They have raised hundreds of millions of dollars in private equity to finance the purchase, distribution, maintenance, and control over thousands of devices around the US. However, their claims that these solutions will provide ease of congestion were too soon to be made.

It seems that customers do not know of, or do not have a staging area, and bikes and scooters are being left anywhere and everywhere and are now becoming a littering problem for pedestrians. So, cars and road congestion might be relieved a bit, but pedestrians are now in danger and need to circumvent bikes and scooters left anywhere and everywhere.


Users unlock a Jump Bike, with a Bird scooter in SF. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Both LimeBike and Bird claim that they will align themselves with city officials and will deal with their concerns and issues immediately. One of the solutions that Bird suggests is that customers will be required to post a photo of where the bike or scooter is being left. Birds CLO David Estrada, who was one of the original employees in Lyft, stated that their Uber approach and all the data that is now accumulated is beneficial in making the service a statement of fact. This means that while they did introduce the service with only customer satisfaction in mind, once it was set within the public mind, it would not be removed and now city officials must regulate and not ban. Estrada told the media that "We actually think we've helped create better regulation because now we have data,"

Learning from the Past

The current status is considered to be similar to that of Uber when it started out. When Travis Kalanick, Uber's founder, bulldozered his company's services onto the streets of the nation, introducing them in a blitzkrieg fashion. Kalanick set a statement of fact, created a market and basically forced a new economy into life. The scooter and bike solution is being forced into existence in the same manner. However, unlike the past, this time the companies are backed up with relevant data as well as a solid rideshare infrastructure. All that remains is for officials to regulate the system, which is now a fact in the American way of life.

The new transportation gig: Electric Scooters

Bird scooter in SF. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

A recent emerging transportation solution is the electronic scooter. It started out quite innocently in San Francisco but spiraled out of control when more and more companies joined the streets, cluttering them up with unattended scooters and causing he city officials to fume.

Bird is one such company; it has a fleet of electric scooters fitted with a GPS tracker that allows customers access to the scooter via their app. Bird is a start-up founded and managed by a former Uber and Lyft executive. Bird entered the streets of SF two weeks ago, amid a fanfare of PR and a statement that they will work together with city officials.

Two weeks later, Bird, as well as two other electric scooter start-ups LimeBike and Spin received a letter from City Attorney Dennis Herrera, stating that they should cease and desist their operations in SF since they "create a public nuisance and are unlawful."

All three companies have two weeks to meet changes that the city of SF demands, and these must be accompanied by an end-of-the month progress report.

Bird and Spin scooters in SF. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

GPS Electric Scooters

This new craze, of GPS-enabled scooters and bicycles, has become a national infestation, where companies provide access to staging areas for quick transportation solutions in cities around the US. Since these transportation devices were not regulated before, cities and states are now all working furiously to create regulations that will regulate the use of them in ways that are both safe, clean and lucrative to cities. The SF board of supervisors passed a bill last week in which they require electric scooter rental companies to get city permits. A similar temporary bill is about to expire in Washington D.C.

Bird and LimeBike are the two largest companies operating in the U.S., and they provide a rental platform through an app that unlocks the bike and scooter for use. They have raised hundreds of millions of dollars in private equity to finance the purchase, distribution, maintenance, and control over thousands of devices around the US. However, their claims that these solutions will provide ease of congestion were too soon to be made.

It seems that customers do not know of, or do not have a staging area, and bikes and scooters are being left anywhere and everywhere and are now becoming a littering problem for pedestrians. So, cars and road congestion might be relieved a bit, but pedestrians are now in danger and need to circumvent bikes and scooters left anywhere and everywhere.

Users unlock a Jump Bike, with a Bird scooter in SF. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Both LimeBike and Bird claim that they will align themselves with city officials and will deal with their concerns and issues immediately. One of the solutions that Bird suggests is that customers will be required to post a photo of where the bike or scooter is being left. Birds CLO David Estrada, who was one of the original employees in Lyft, stated that their Uber approach and all the data that is now accumulated is beneficial in making the service a statement of fact. This means that while they did introduce the service with only customer satisfaction in mind, once it was set within the public mind, it would not be removed and now city officials must regulate and not ban. Estrada told the media that "We actually think we've helped create better regulation because now we have data,"

Learning from the Past

The current status is considered to be similar to that of Uber when it started out. When Travis Kalanick, Uber's founder, bulldozered his company's services onto the streets of the nation, introducing them in a blitzkrieg fashion. Kalanick set a statement of fact, created a market and basically forced a new economy into life. The scooter and bike solution is being forced into existence in the same manner. However, unlike the past, this time the companies are backed up with relevant data as well as a solid rideshare infrastructure. All that remains is for officials to regulate the system, which is now a fact in the American way of life.

A LimeBike electric scooter parked near a cross walk in SF. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

The Trade Off with Status Quo

Regulation is considered to be an official way to hold back innovation. However, this is not true. Regulation is used to assure that new technologies are employed in a way that provides an efficient solution to both the public and the company. The public in this instance is not just the customer but the people around the customer, being directly affected by the customer's use of the technology.

Cities charge a fee for regulation, its called a license. Once a company accepts the rules, it can operate within the city limits and provide both a service to the public as well as a profit to its shareholders.

However, there is a trade off when introducing a new technology that will upset the status quo, and this trade off is how companies can stretch the line until a regulatory body hits back. The big issue with bikes and scooters is only "staging," where will the scooter and bike be available. Had the companies introduced staging zone rules, such as where to leave a device and how to leave it, this might have created a company-controlled precedent. However, the companies were in a rush to get their new technology into the market and decided to disregard this issue knowing it would lead to a confrontation.

Now they must comply with city regulations, which is basically letting the regulators decide. This worked well for Uber only because they had the finances to buy the decision-making process through an extensive lobby. Another difference is that cars do not need a staging area, the curb (or where the city allows on curbs) are staging area's and were already a part of the driving scenario since taxies were the official "Neanderthal" that the new technology was replacing.

Bikes and scooters have no "Neanderthal" to replace, and as such, there was no previous staging area. By not setting up staging areas, companies have introduced a new technology but will now be limited by the municipality after allowing customers freedom. This does not mean that the tech. will disappear, it just means that the tech. service will be "downgraded" from a free-for-all to a regulated service.

Bottom Line

Staging areas will create a decrease in demand, since customers are lazy and don't want to "walk" o a staging area, and don't want to leave a scooter I a staging area, they want a door to door (literally) service. Where the bike is picked up a foot away from their destination point and picked up wherever and whenever they want. In theory, this sounds great, but in reality, it will not happen.

Education

This new service will undergo a lot of revisions; the staging area issue is the main issue facing companies that want to deal with scooter rides. Unlike bikes, scooters are psychologically and literally smaller extensions of the leg, and not considered something you would "park." In reality, you cannot have scooters cluttering up the sidewalks and entrances to buildings.

Scooter staging areas will become a fact, and a good one at that, for three reasons:

  1. Cleaner and safer streets, where scooters will not be an obstacle for pedestrians.
  2. Easier collection for maintenance, where companies and customers don't need to search for a scooter, it is in one place at any given moment of parking time.
  3. Customers usage, where customers will n longer "throw" scooters anywhere, creating less breakage.

The Final Word

E-scooter and bike companies want to reduce the number of cars o the road. They don't expect to replace all of them, but the inner-city traffic can be easily reduced when introducing mass bike and scooter options. Asia is a classic example where bikes are more numerous than cars, and traffic is now a bike thing more than a car thing. Let's wait to see that day arrive in San Francisco.


A LimeBike electric scooter parked near a cross walk in SF. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

The Trade Off with Status Quo

Regulation is considered to be an official way to hold back innovation. However, this is not true. Regulation is used to assure that new technologies are employed in a way that provides an efficient solution to both the public and the company. The public in this instance is not just the customer but the people around the customer, being directly affected by the customer's use of the technology.

Cities charge a fee for regulation, its called a license. Once a company accepts the rules, it can operate within the city limits and provide both a service to the public as well as a profit to its shareholders.

However, there is a trade off when introducing a new technology that will upset the status quo, and this trade off is how companies can stretch the line until a regulatory body hits back. The big issue with bikes and scooters is only "staging," where will the scooter and bike be available. Had the companies introduced staging zone rules, such as where to leave a device and how to leave it, this might have created a company-controlled precedent. However, the companies were in a rush to get their new technology into the market and decided to disregard this issue knowing it would lead to a confrontation.

Now they must comply with city regulations, which is basically letting the regulators decide. This worked well for Uber only because they had the finances to buy the decision-making process through an extensive lobby. Another difference is that cars do not need a staging area, the curb (or where the city allows on curbs) are staging area's and were already a part of the driving scenario since taxies were the official "Neanderthal" that the new technology was replacing.

Bikes and scooters have no "Neanderthal" to replace, and as such, there was no previous staging area. By not setting up staging areas, companies have introduced a new technology but will now be limited by the municipality after allowing customers freedom. This does not mean that the tech. will disappear, it just means that the tech. service will be "downgraded" from a free-for-all to a regulated service.

Bottom Line

Staging areas will create a decrease in demand, since customers are lazy and don't want to "walk" o a staging area, and don't want to leave a scooter I a staging area, they want a door to door (literally) service. Where the bike is picked up a foot away from their destination point and picked up wherever and whenever they want. In theory, this sounds great, but in reality, it will not happen.

Education

This new service will undergo a lot of revisions; the staging area issue is the main issue facing companies that want to deal with scooter rides. Unlike bikes, scooters are psychologically and literally smaller extensions of the leg, and not considered something you would "park." In reality, you cannot have scooters cluttering up the sidewalks and entrances to buildings.

Scooter staging areas will become a fact, and a good one at that, for three reasons:

  1. Cleaner and safer streets, where scooters will not be an obstacle for pedestrians.
  2. Easier collection for maintenance, where companies and customers don't need to search for a scooter, it is in one place at any given moment of parking time.
  3. Customers usage, where customers will n longer "throw" scooters anywhere, creating less breakage.

The Final Word

E-scooter and bike companies want to reduce the number of cars o the road. They don't expect to replace all of them, but the inner-city traffic can be easily reduced when introducing mass bike and scooter options. Asia is a classic example where bikes are more numerous than cars, and traffic is now a bike thing more than a car thing. Let's wait to see that day arrive in San Francisco.


Will Rideshare Change Car Consumer Habits?
(Andrew Martin) #2

This is not enough!!! We need rideshare skateboards, (electric ones of course) and rideshare roller blades and roller wheels, everything with a wheel on it is rideshare viable. I want to see rideshare electric wheelchairs too! Imagine an Uber wheelchair initiative, where electric wheelchairs are found on every street corner! Go Uber Go!