The recent development of a new disruptive mobility model—privately owned dockless shared e-scooters and e-bikes — provides potential opportunities for a new sustainable transportation mode. Shared mobility services are typically enabled by technology or a mobile app with GPS-enabled scooters or bikes run by private companies. However, there is a need to regulate and manage this new type of business. The City of Santa Monica designed and launched a 16-month pilot program in 2018 to test shared electric scooters and bikes operated by multiple private companies using a flexible approach that could be responsive to community needs, technological advancements, and a nascent and evolving industry. For the Pilot, four shared mobility service providers maintained a total fleet of 2,500 devices (including 2,000 e-scooters and 500 e-bikes). The performance of the system was evaluated over the first year of the pilot project.
The following lessons learned were highlighted in the summary report for the shared mobility pilot program.
- Education efforts are critical to ensure residents and visitors use new mobility services in a way that is safe and respectful of other people using the street. Negative public perception about the use of electric scooters may not only come from what riders do during a ride but also from what they do with their scooters upon completing their trip.
- The emergence of shared mobility devices served as a popular alternative to drive alone, and ride-hailing, or as a way to travel a little faster than walking trips. Trips were also found to be dispersed throughout the city.
- A range of resources, incentives, and reduced cost structures are needed to ensure equitable operations. Culturally appropriate marketing and engagement efforts are also necessary.
- Operations and device data are essential to understand transportation system impacts, manage compliance, enforcement efforts, and measure community perspectives. Clear expectations for data sharing offered insights on service provider performance on metrics such as utilization and deployment.