Austin On Your Feet graphic

Austin writer Dan Keshet lays out problems — and fixes — with scooters

Dockless scooter left in middle of sidewalk, Austin 2018

In a story entitled: "The problems with scooters are real. Let’s fix them," Austin writer Dan Keshet points out some of the main points of contention about scooters and their impact on public spaces. Unlike a lot of stories on the topic, Keshet also makes some common sense recommendations on how to address the problems. Check out the full story here: The problems with scooters are real. Let’s fix them.

Uber's JUMP dockless scooter

Uber scooters giving free rides till January 9, 2019

Uber's JUMP dockless scooter

Uber uses the moniker 'JUMP' for its bike and scooter service. And both JUMP bikes and scooters are getting free rides and helmets through Jan. 9, 2019. Riders can get up to five, 30-minute rides per day. Scooters will then cost $1 to unlock and $0.10 a minute after the free rides have been used.

Uber's JUMP e-scooters work by reserving and unlocking them using the Uber app, via a small icon "switch" at the top of the Uber app screen. If there are no Jump devices near the users, the option to reserve bikes/scooters is not shown to the user. Confusing decision by Uber, if it wanted to bring greater awareness of bikes and scooters to its user base.

The new Uber scooters also bear a similar resemblance to competing Lime scooters, though instead sporting a red and black color scheme.

San Diego is the fourth city to receive the company's scooter service. Just last month, Uber introduced JUMP bicycles to San Diego, adding about 300 bikes to the city's plentiful dockless transportation options. These red e-bikes were spotted in Hillcrest last month, as reported by BikeSD:

Lyft scooter, photo courtesy the company

Lyft scooters follow Uber's JUMP into San Diego

Lyft scooter, photo courtesy the company

On December 19, 2018, rideshare service Lyft announced Thursday it is joining Uber's 'Jump' in offering dockless electric scooters in San Diego. Lyft marks the fifth entrant in the local market after Bird, Lime, Razor and Uber.

The scooters that Lyft is deploying seem to be of the first generation model, with thumb throttles and small wheels. What sets Lyft apart from Bird and others is that Lyft scooters can be reserved using the Lyft app. This gives Lyft a large pool of potential users in the city, right out of the gate. It remains to be seen whether this is enough to pull riders from earlier entrants like Bird and Lime.

More info on the Times of San Diego article on the Lyft launch.

J Street receiving the first stripe for the Downtown cycletrack

New downtown 'mobility lanes', scooters to follow

The first stripes of the Downtown Mobility Plan are laid on J Street, December 2018

Map of the 2018 Downtown Mobility Plan
The Downtown Mobility Plan (DMP) has broken ground in San Diego as of December 19, 2018! Paint crews began striping thermoplastic lanes along J Street and the entire DMP Phase 1 should be complete “in a few months time,” according to Mayor Faulconer. This day has been a long time coming after years of planning, delays and cost overruns, but we’d like to offer our thanks to Mayor Faulconer for pushing this project forward over the last couple of months. We note that in 2016 the mayor pledged to complete all cycletracks during his 2nd term.

The Downtown Mobility Plan’s first phase will create Class VI bike tracks on:

  • Beech Street from Pacific Highway to Sixth Avenue
  • Sixth Avenue from Beech Street to Harbor Drive
  • J Street from 1st Avenue to Park Boulevard

These tracks are two-way cycle tracks (special bike lanes that provide a right-of-way for cyclists and scooter riders within the roadway). Parked cars, flex posts, and or grade variations will separate the tracks from vehicular traffic. When all three phases are fully built-out, the Downtown Mobility Plan will provide 9.3 miles of these two-way cycle tracks around downtown San Diego, connecting points like the Convention Center with Balboa Park.

photo of DMP press conference Dec 21, 2018
R-L: CM Chris Ward, Mayor Faulconer, SDCBC's Andy Harkan, BikeSD's Nicole Burgess, and Randy Torres-Van Vleck at the press conference announcing the start of the Downtown Mobility Plan bikeway. - Dec 21, 2018

More on this from the San Diego Union-Tribune story. We applaud the mayor for getting this often-delayed project out of the City’s Streets Division and onto city streets.

While Phase 1 is a great start, Phases 2 and 3 represent the greater share of the Downtown Mobility Plan bikeways and will likely not unfold as quickly or easily as Phase 1. Natalia Torres, Associate Civil Engineer for the City’s Streets Division, explained that the later Downtown phases may not be managed by the City’s Streets Division but instead may be handled by the Department of Public Works (DPW). For those not familiar with the city’s bifurcated engineering divisions, this could be bad news for cyclists and scooter users because DPW is often slower to roll out infrastructure. DPW staff typically handle physical infrastructure like drains, underground wiring, and things like Americans with Disability Compliance elements. DPW often takes longer because they deal less often with things like bikeway design and surface configuration. And given that later phases of the Plan involved difficult pedestrian and bike connections to the notoriously bad Pacific Coast Highway, this challenge will be significant for DPW staff to handle.

RideSD, BikeSD and other mobility advocates will need to continue to press the city to move forward on the DMP, especially to push the city to use the Streets Division to implement Phase 2 and 3 of the plan so that it doesn’t get slowed down. And we expect continued opposition from groups like the Little Italy Association, which has a history of opposing bike lanes in their district.

Even though today was a day to celebrate a small victory for biking, scooting, and walking safety, there’s a long road ahead to complete the full vision of the Downtown Mobility Plan. The news media will move on from this story. Elected officials may change or depart. Engineering staff may move on to other projects. But RideSD will be there, making sure that the Downtown Mobility Plan continues to get attention and move towards full completion.