Was 2018 a great year for you? It certainly was for mobility. You probably didn't notice that electric scooters have been in America since 2017, or how many bikeshare companies and stations there are currently, or even how many companies are investing into getting the first autonomous vehicle on the street. Don't worry, we got the inside track.
Scooters have taken over 2018 at an alarming rate — what started the year off as a crazy new fad in a couple cities has spread to a transportation phenomenon that's gone international. Have you been wondering why something so simple has everyone going crazy — whether they're for it or against it? Well, that's just it. They're a simple, immediate solution to our much needed demand of smarter mobility within cities. Many cities across the nation have continued to extend their scooter pilot programs for multiple brands as citizens continue to show their value.
After seeing how pilot programs have taken off in 2018, cities like Boston are looking to make 2019 their year for scooters as scooter-less towns contemplate adding to their mobility choices. But scooters still have a lot of groundwork to cover in 2019 like regulations, regulations, and more regulations. Most programs took off haphazardly with scooters mysteriously appearing on the streets and barely any guidance. Since enough people have taken to them as a reliable form of transit, we need to determine how they will best fit into our current landscape.
In other scooter news, car-hailing service Lyft has stepped up their game in a whole new level by adding their own scooters into the mix. This is on top of the company officially acquiring bikeshare company Motivate this year, making it the largest bikeshare system in America. 80% of bike trips taken last year where through Motivate providers like CitiBike (New York), Capital Bikeshare (DC), BlueBikes (Massachusetts), GoGo (Ohio), and more. That 80% is a key reason why Lyft and Uber have gone head-head in 2018 over bikes. And that's why Uber scooped up JUMP Bikes earlier this year. If either company plans to become the ultimate mobility tool, then they can't ignore the incredible success and growth of scooters and bikeshare start-ups.
It's hard to say what we these two major ridehailing tycoons will do in the new year, but I'd get ready to see more headlines about them both trying to acquire other mobility companies (think: more scooters, bikes, buses, and autonomous vehicles). There's also a rumor running around that Uber and Lyft will be going public in 2019... say hello to a whole new mobility.
Many transit-oriented companies, including the ones mentioned above, need one key thing to change in order for business to last: curbs. Fortunately, conversations and even construction for curb redesigns were not absent in 2018. TransitScreen's CEO Matt Caywood talked about how 2018 was year of the curb as well as what we could expect to see in 2019 at ACT's TDM Forum in November. You could attribute the popularity of this conversation to the sudden burst in dockless bikes and scooters over the past year. They've become accessible, quick, and a pedestrian-friendly form of transportation when adequate bike lanes are around.
Which is how we've come to a larger discussion about how the urban landscape is shifting towards a more pedestrian-friendly design, giving the city back to the people who make them up as opposed to the cars. A prime example we've used previously are the superblocks in Barcelona — these are multiply-block areas with reduced speed limits and parking, making them pedestrian-first centers full of life right in the streets.
Photo provided by Greg Raisman
This revolves around a relatively new idea of tactical urbanism, an umbrella term that's centered around the action of redesigning streets to make them safer and smarter for pedestrians. A huge help to improve city streets is learned through traffic data that allows us to understand congestion, traffic patterns, and human behavior. 2018 has been an important year for gaining access to this information because we've had companies like Ford, Uber, and Lyft share this data to help better mobility in cities.
Tactical Urbanism is a trend that you'll be seeing more of in 2019 as more plans for smarter streets begin to unfold. Changes like Toronto's new street layouts, Seattle's blueprint to create flex zones, and Boston's expansion of pedestrian plazas in the heart of the city. Even a town as crowded as Manhattan is taking another look at their car-filled streets.
Are you excited to see where these trends will take us in 2019? 🎉
Curious where you can read more about some of main topics in this article? I've got a list for you below, and yes, I've checked it twice!
Scooters: New season, same scooters; Micromobility 101: What is it?; How to explain scooters to your aunt this Thanksgiving; 2018: The summer of the scooter; Could start-ups be the reason why fewer millennials are buying cars?
Bikeshare: Bike lanes: Not one size fits all; Bikes: A global cycle for the future; Are cities starting to shape the future of bikeshare?; Put the pedal to the medal: A fierce competition for bikeshare companies