Detroit’s success with the shared e-scooter market isn’t just a win for the city—it will shape how other cities use dockless mobility devices to achieve equity and safety goals.
CityLab Detroit kicked off with a big announcement from Mayor Mike Duggan and Janette Sadik-Khan, principal at Bloomberg Associates and chair of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). Detroit will be the home for a pilot mobility data project with the goal of creating a standard for cities and mobility companies to collect data—via trip origins and destinations, travel time and usage, and neighborhood usage—all while protecting privacy, creating more manageable streets, and moving toward more equity in mobility.
The program is a partnership between the city, NACTO, and SharedStreets—a nonprofit that builds tools and data to help cities and companies work together to improve urban mobility.
“In just one year, scooters have completely transformed mobility. In Detroit, we took a forward-looking view on this new option to understand how it could make it easier for Detroiters to get around,” said Mayor Duggan. “Our next step is to use data to better inform our decisions, whether it’s providing more mobility options in more neighborhoods or making sure scooters aren’t blocking the right of way.”
Many of Detroit’s streets are very wide—six to eight lanes—and in recent years, road diets have taken place to make them more pedestrian and bike-friendly. This also helps with scooters, which ideally should not be ridden on the sidewalks (although they often are here).
Last week, Detroit city officials announced an expansion of shared scooter programs throughout the city. E-scooter companies—currently Lime and Bird—would add 100 more scooters, which would have to go outside the areas surrounding downtown and into more neighborhoods. Another scooter company, Spin, also has plans to move into the Detroit market.
Detroit doesn’t have a dockless shared bike program. MoGo—the city’s bike share—launched in 2017 and has docks set up in many Detroit neighborhoods surrounding downtown, with plans to expand in 2019.
At a national level, Bird announced earlier this year that it was starting an initiative to fund safer streets and protected bike lanes. Both Bird and Lime were recently named in a class-action lawsuit, claiming “gross negligence” from plaintiffs who say they or their properties have been injured or harmed from the scooters.