As many of you have seen in recent news, dockless bikes and scooters have become a hot topic, and cities across the country have been wrestling with how to best manage this new approach to urban mobility.
At CCA, we are focused on creating an accessible Downtown with enhanced connections between neighborhoods. Without the need for infrastructure, dockless bike and scooter programs can quickly create an entire new way of getting around a city at an affordable price. They’re a creative solution to first and last-mile connection issues and can make DTLA more accessible for our residents, businesses and visitors. They can also be complementary to and increase ridership for the Metro Bike Share program and the entire Metro system. As the L.A. Times Editorial Board said, “scooters are not a scourge; they’re a solution.”
Dockless services have already seen success in places like Seattle, which has nearly 10,000 bikes in service throughout the city. There, approximately 75% of riders use the bikes to access transit, and 74% of residents view dockless bikes favorably while less than 20% view them unfavorably. Starting at $1 per ride and available with just a few swipes on a smartphone, dockless services are meeting a need for customers that traditional “docked” bike share options have struggled to attract.
Los Angeles is a growing city and home to the country’s worst traffic. Downtown plans to add 125,000 new residents by 2040, and we need to embrace programs that encourage people to get out of their cars and decrease the gridlock on our streets. New mobility options can also promote development that’s less car-oriented, helping to improve our urban design and reduce the cost of new housing.
LADOT recently proposed new regulations for dockless bikes and scooters, and their initial recommendations included a three-mile buffer around Downtown where these services would not be allowed to operate. This would have cut off access to bike and scooter sharing for as many as 860,000 people in the city’s most dense neighborhoods, including some communities that also don’t have access to Metro Bike Share.
With successful policies like the adaptive reuse ordinance, Downtown has proven to be the best testing ground for innovative projects and ideas. Downtown is at the center of LADOT’s innovation, with creative ideas around car-sharing, automated vehicles, and bicycle infrastructure being developed. They should continue to be an innovative partner and use Downtown as the place to try out new initiatives that benefit the city, and we are pleased that they revised their recommendations to remove this buffer.
We understand that there are legitimate concerns about these services and that we need proper regulations and incentives in place to keep Angelenos safe. Rules are needed for where to park these devices, the speed at which people can travel and other guidelines for how to create safe and clutter-free sidewalks. In addition, we need to make sure that bikeshare and scooter companies share their data about ridership and their operations with the City. This will help our city officials understand ridership and our city’s mobility needs, build trust between operators and our local government, and enable future innovative mobility solutions that create a dynamic and welcoming Downtown Los Angeles.
Services like dockless bikes and scooters just emerged and are rapidly evolving. We agree with the Santa Monica City Council’s collaborative approach and the recent action they took for a 16-month pilot program, and we look forward to working with LADOT and the companies leading this innovation to continue these important conversations to create a sustainable program for Los Angeles.
Photo Credit: Lime