Cities across the country are working to figure out dockless mobility services such as eScooters and bikes as they pop up overnight with seemingly little-to-no notice. The reaction from policy makers has been varied from quick and overly burdensome regulations and/or impact assessments to outright banning this new form of transit.
We take a different approach. Why not embrace, observe, and quickly test solutions as problems emerge related to innovative transportation interventions like Bird Scooters? From this thinking and over beers with friends, the idea of the ‘Bird Cage’ emerged. Last week, with a tiny budget and a little bit of creativity, we installed Bird Cages in public spaces around downtown Cincinnati in a matter of hours. The goal was to spur creative thinking around how cities can smartly adapt and grow with new technology like Bird Scooters. As dockless mobility options grow and diversify, particularly in small-to-medium sized cities, we see three strategies and tactics at work:
1. Embrace Options
A commonality among rapidly growing cities is that they are open minded to advances in innovation and technology. Dockless mobility is quickly changing the way we interact with places, just as ride sharing has done in the past, and those who are willing to adapt smartly and proactively are going to continue to grow faster than those who overly regulate and/or tax this new technology before truly understanding its impact.
2. Rapidly Prototype Solutions
As we figure out the opportunities and impact of dockless technology cities should embrace tactical problem solving. Whether it be the temporary installation of bike/scooter lanes, sharrows or parking, these interventions can and should be installed nimbly and cheaply as a way of learning what the future of our dockless infrastructure should look like.
3. Leverage Data
The ride data generated by dockless technology can make us much smarter around where, when, and how people want to get from point ‘A’ to ‘B.’ This information can help us determine how and where to make smarter investments around economic development, housing, and people-centric street infrastructure.