With over 1.4 million rides and no deaths, pilot met safety, mobility and equity goals
DOT commits to expanding alternative modes of transport; New RFP going public today allows new interested companies to compete to enter the market
The New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez today released a Request for Proposals to expand micromobility, with the capacity to make a pilot that began last year in the East Bronx permanent. The agency also released a report highlighting the success of that pilot, which has logged more than 1.4 million rides with no fatalities and few serious injuries since it launched in August 2021.
“We are announcing today that the shared e-scooter pilot I supported as a Councilmember will aim to become a long-term program, pending the results of DOT’s RFP,” said Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “On the streets of the East Bronx, this pilot met and exceeded its ambitious goals around safety, mobility, and equity. And now we are ready to do even more for more communities.”
DOT launched the highly successful East Bronx Shared E-Scooter Pilot in several neighborhoods in the East Bronx in August 2021 and, in concert with a second phase added ten months later, eventually covered communities from Wakefield and Pelham Parkway to Soundview with participation from three companies. During the pilot, those three companies, Bird, Lime and Veo, provided 6,000 shared e-scooters. The current pilot program will continue at least through the summer of 2023, with today’s RFP demonstrating the intent to continue offering shared micromobility after next year for more New York City residents and communities.
The one-year evaluation of the pilot demonstrated that the program provided functional and accessible mobility options to a historically underserved communities, easing dependence on motor vehicles by offering an environmentally-friendly mobility option. The pilot, initiated by Local Law 74 of 2020, was designed to test viability of e-scooters specifically in neighborhoods not served by Citi Bike.
DOT launched the pilot with four goals:
- Create strong safety requirements
- Assess the transportation utility of shared e-scooters
- Minimize sidewalk clutter to maintain the public right of way, and:
- Evaluate the participating companies’ viability and ability to comply with the pilot requirements.
In June 2022, after seeing early success in the first ten months of the program, DOT expanded the pilot further south in the East Bronx, doubling the number of e-scooters and adding nine new neighborhoods to the pilot area. Overall, the combined pilot area covered nearly 600,000 New Yorkers, more than 80 percent of whom were non-White and included 25 NYCHA developments.
DOT required strict safety standards, including mandatory age verification and a “beginner mode” for new riders – who were required to take a safety quiz, travel at slower speeds and could not take initial rides overnight. The pilot’s conditions also required operators to share system data to enable DOT to monitor whether the e-scooter operators were complying with the terms of the pilot program, as well as to identify operational challenges. In certain areas of the pilot area, DOT mandated all e-scooter rides to end at mandatory e-scooter parking corrals, about 130 in total. DOT also built out the City’s bike lane network in the pilot service area, with many projects completed (including new protected lanes along Bronxdale Avenue), and others slated for completion in 2023.
As part of the pilot program, DOT evaluated trip and other system data from August 17, 2021 to August 31, 2022, and user and non-user survey data collected between September 2021 and May 2022. The findings in DOT’s evaluation illustrated broad success of the pilot in relation to its major goals of safety, mobility, operations, parking, equity and community participation.
Safety: DOT ensured safety was a critical factor in the pilot launch and required in-app safety training, a 15-MPH speed limit (below the 20-MPH speed limit allowed by State law), and a “beginner” mode for new riders. DOT particularly monitored for sidewalk, underage and multi-rider riding.
The safety results of the pilot were also encouraging: no fatalities were reported, and most crashes involved minor injuries or none at all.
Mobility: More than 1,000,000 million rides were completed from over 86,000 user accounts in the 12-month period. That number has since jumped to over 1.4 million as of November 2022. Trends showed rider preferred weekdays over weekends and warmer weather over cooler temperatures. The average ride took slightly under 10 minutes.
Ridership was high on commercial corridors and near MTA transit, including subway stations and bus and ferry stops. The heaviest travelled corridors connected e-scooter riders to public transit and commercial uses. Shared e-scooters provided critical “last-mile” connections.
Operations and Data: One of the program’s challenges proved to be the GPS system’s function in optimizing users’ compliance with the rules and offer the best user experience possible. In order to address this challenge, DOT required companies to provide additional to ensure service and safety standards.
Parking: Sidewalk obstructions remained one area for improvement, with improper parking of e-scooters occasionally observed. The report notes that the e-scooter parking corrals DOT created along major corridors helped provide a more organized streetscape.
Equity and Community: Companies in the pilot offered discounts for lower-income riders, efforts that proved successful. Participants using the discounted rate averaged 25 trips vs. the system-wide average of 11 trips. The system’s operation also allowed for DOT and the operators to address community concerns via geofencing, corral or operation restrictions.
With today’s release of the RFP solicitation for a shared e-scooter program, DOT’s goal is to foster financially self-sustaining services that offer multimodal options, further New York City’s environmental/equity goals, and continue to build an enticing and livable public realm. DOT will also look to enhance safety procedures, mitigate sidewalk riding and use additional technology to address poor riding behavior. A resulting procurement would also ensure a continuous post-pilot service in the East Bronx. The target neighborhoods and the scale of future e-mobility programs will be based on the RFP responses — as well as on land-use requirements, existing transportation infrastructure and community input.