There's a picture making the rounds on the internet. It shows someone riding an electric scooter on the Downtown Connector. It tends to set off a lot of comments. And lately every meeting we're in starts with small talk about dockless bike share and scooters. Often it's "Ugh, they're everywhere!"
But our feeling is "Yes, they're everywhere!"
Atlantans are riding scooters and shared bikes in droves, especially in parts of the city where streets are the most congested, or in areas with big gaps in transit service, or well, even that one guy on the highway (yikes).
All this demand highlights just how little space is available for anything other than cars, and how much space we've dedicated to cars. Google streetview illustrates the story on roads like Courtland Ave near Georgia State University:
After hearing from many of you and watching the explosion of mobility options in Atlanta, we've realized a few things. Read more for our positions on dockless bikeshare and scooters and let us know what you think!
The popularity of electric scooters, bike share, and whatever's next that allows people to #OptOutofTraffic shows people really do want more convenient modes for short trips. All the new options should be encouraged, not diminished.
Sidewalks are for walking (and motorized wheelchairs). Streets should be safe for vehicles, small or large.
In addition, we think the city ordinance being considered should require:
- In-app education on safety and how/where they can and should be used.
- Cash payment option to open the doors for people who don't have credit cards to use these devices.
- Data sharing with the city
To support the safe use of scooters and bikes, the City of Atlanta should:
- Institute 25 mph speed limit on city streets to make them safe for all users
- Install more bike parking, with most of them on-street corrals to discourage sidewalk riding
It wasn't easy coming to these simple conclusions because of how poorly our current roster of streets meets our evolving mobility needs.
Scooters on sidewalks - not great for pedestrian safety. Scooters on streets - that doesn't feel very safe for riders. Scooters in the bike lanes? Sure, come share, but we're going to need more space, and more connections, ASAP.
It's entirely possible to build out a network of narrow lanes for small vehicles - what we once thought of as bike lanes - just check out Seville's ballyhooed success. We just have to want it. And by the looks of our city's core today, we do.
For our policy recommendations, view our letter to the City on dockless regulation.