E-Scooters Are Already Right here — And The Metropolis Wants To Adapt – Streetsblog New York Metropolis
We’re going to wish greater bike lanes.
As New York Metropolis will get able to arrange company scooter-share packages outdoors of Manhattan, gross sales of privately owned e-scooters are skyrocketing by triple digits within the 5 boroughs, including one other transportation mode to the town’s more and more congested bike lanes.
Amid the spike in gross sales of the sunshine electrical transportation choice, advocates are warning that the town is working out of room to deal with the extra visitors. The potential for battle is apparent.
Go to any of the East River bridges and the already slim bike and pedestrian paths are full of a number of modes of transportation — legs, bikes, electrical bikes, scooters and e-scooters — shifting at totally different speeds. On a latest Friday on the Manhattan Bridge, Streetsblog noticed a number of e-scooter riders on the bike path, together with a father guiding his baby on a conventional three-wheeled child’s scooter. Day by day on the Queensboro Bridge, a single slim lane is utilized by walkers, cyclists and scooter riders in each instructions. Crashes happen each day.
Considerations over scooter-share packages are likely to concentrate on the query of the place to park the dockless gadgets, which have cluttered sidewalks in different cities. However that concern ignores the larger one: New York Metropolis additionally doesn’t have the infrastructure to deal with an explosion of latest non-car transportation choices. The rising curiosity in e-scooters as a strategy to get round New York, even earlier than corporations like Chicken and Lime can begin native scooter-share packages, is placing stress on the town’s bike infrastructure, which was already creaking under an uptick in people on bikes.
“When Chicken or Lime will get right here, it’s going to blow up when it comes to utilization. What I fear about is simply too many of those on the streets and never sufficient area to experience them. It’s been good for folks this summer season, there’s loads of area to experience,” mentioned Eric Levenseller, the founding father of New York Metropolis-based scooter firm Levy Electrical Scooters. “Individuals will most likely transfer out of the bike lanes and get into common visitors lanes as a result of there’s not sufficient area or they don’t really feel protected within the bike lane.”
Some intrepid scooter customers are already making that call, like this pair just lately seen scooting within the motorized vehicle lanes on the Williamsburg Bridge.
the individuals are demanding extra micromobility lanes on the Williamsburg bridge pic.twitter.com/QJ65HosLsr
— Tom (@bicycult) September 22, 2020
Particular person house owners of scooters and different micro mobility gadgets are loving the experience, even when they miss the larger image.
“I’ve had this for 3, 4 months now,” Brian Bonet mentioned about his Segway scooter on a latest September afternoon after he rode throughout the Manhattan Bridge. “I take it to Borough Park and again. I dwell all the way in which on the Higher West Facet, this factor goes round 28 miles in vary. I simply crossed the bridge all the way in which from Borough Park.”
Scooter riders had been an occasional sight on streets, bike lanes and bridges earlier than the electrical rides had been legalized generally in the state budget and then by the City Council in 2020, and so they’ve turn out to be an much more frequent presence since legalization.
Scooter corporations and retailers are reporting an uptick in curiosity as effectively this yr, pushed by each the change in legislation and a inhabitants that continues to be cautious of public transportation. A spokesperson for e-scooter firm Unagi mentioned that New York Metropolis gross sales of its product by the corporate’s web site elevated 312 % within the second quarter of 2020 in comparison with the primary quarter, and 549 % evaluating the second quarter of 2020 with the second quarter in 2019. The spokesperson mentioned that the rise amounted to going from a whole lot of scooter gross sales per 30 days in New York Metropolis to 1000’s.
Native retailers say they’ve seen the identical sort of curiosity.
“Lots of people are coming in who’ve by no means owned a bicycle, however are searching for different modes of transportation,” mentioned Levenseller. “Lots of people are utilizing them which have to return into work and don’t need to take the subway.
“Enterprise has undoubtedly picked up considerably since April,” Levenseller added throughout a chat in Levy’s Decrease East Facet storefront, claiming a 160-percent year-over-year enhance since scooters had been legalized statewide in April.
A couple of blocks north at Paragon Sports activities, gross sales clerk Julian Maerwitz mentioned that gross sales on Unagi scooters had been brisk because the retailer was in a position to restart its retail operations in the course of the summer season.
“We’ve bought a number of these because the demand picked up from COVID,” he mentioned, placing the variety of scooters bought at round 30. “They promote nearly instantly as they arrive in.”
Scooter riders round Manhattan ranged from the skilled riders to newbies, however each occasions mentioned that they selected e-scooters so as to keep away from the bus and subway.
“None of us desires to take the subway so we’re both getting electrical bikes or scooters,” a scooter consumer named Jae, who declined to offer her final identify, mentioned about her and her co-workers within the Meatpacking District. “I’ve undoubtedly seen extra folks on these since I purchased my first one three years in the past.”
Sebastian Brecht, a chef within the East Village, mentioned he switched from a motorbike to a scooter to commute from Crown Heights.
“I used to be driving my bike for a lot of months but it surely was onerous on my physique,” he mentioned. “I didn’t need to purchase an electrical bike since you’re nonetheless sitting down on it, and I don’t like happening public transportation. I haven’t been on it in 5 months or extra.”
Advocates say they welcome any new transportation choice that will get folks out of vehicles, however that the town authorities has to begin desirous about the bike and scooter visitors of tomorrow, as a substitute of the visitors patterns of the previous.
“Designing bike lanes for the visitors we had within the 2010s quickly received’t be sufficient to deal with the bike visitors of the 2020s,” mentioned Transportation Alternate options spokesman Joe Cutrufo “The variety of folks getting round on two wheels has shot up, not simply with the pandemic-fueled bike growth, however the continued progress of Citi Bike, and shortly scooter share. The following administration might want to broaden not solely the community of protected bike lanes, but additionally the width of protected bike lanes.”
Extra scooter customers doesn’t simply should be a battle level for pedestrians and other people on bikes although. As former Lime Bike Chief Applications Officer Scott Kubly pointed out to Streetsblog in 2018, scooter riders will finally be like bike riders — and demand more room for his or her sustainable transport mode.
“If scooters have a decrease barrier than bikes, however riders need the identical safety that bikers do, doesn’t that construct a bigger constituency for higher bike lanes?” Kubly rhetorically requested.
Two years later, scooter retailers and riders are echoing that 2018 prediction.
“In the long run cities want to consider having totally different lanes for light-weight electrical automobiles like this, particularly in the event that they’re going to be going quicker than bikes,” mentioned Levenseller.
Bonet, who mentioned that he rides his scooter in Midtown, mentioned that the present bike lanes in Midtown had been hazardous already, and that the small little bit of the curb being taken away from vehicles was additionally complicating issues for riders.
“Sixth Avenue and Eighth Avenue, these are busy business streets and so they get sort of troublesome to navigate when individuals are parked within the bike lane, strolling within the bike lane. And these new outdoors diner pop up issues that take up parking areas and bike lanes as effectively, it’s sort of a problem, so possibly a little bit extra room can be good,” he mentioned.
Multiple City Council members have expressed interest or support for scooter share in recent times, however the Metropolis Council nonetheless hasn’t had a lot in the way in which of a dialogue about making the streets protected for scooter customers. Queens Council Member Costa Constantinides expressed assist for micro-mobility lanes and the concept of tilting the streets from automotive dominance to one thing extra bike and light-weight electric-friendly, whereas he watched Chicken scooter demo held at Astoria Park in late September.
“It’s an excellent drawback to have that now we have too many individuals utilizing the bike lanes, however multimodal transportation requires us to do extra,” Constantinides mentioned. “I’m not against that in any respect. As somebody who simply went by a summer season the place my lungs had been weak from COVID and the docs mentioned, ‘Exit for a stroll’ when it was 95 levels every single day with oppressive humidity, the place was I going to go? We’re dwelling in local weather change now, and if we don’t act to create choices for emissions-free transportation, what are we doing?”