The Comeback: Scooter & e-Bike Share

There has been a lot of news lately about the lacking availability within Cleveland’s current bikeshare system (which is being fixed), and the loss of the main corporate sponsor of this traditional “docked” system. Add this to the abrupt arrival and departure of Bird scooters last fall and we have a pretty bleak status for shared mobility devices in our city.

But that’s all about to change.

The City of Cleveland is currently issuing permits to multiple shared mobility vendors and Cuyahoga County will be licensing vendors to operate in neighboring suburbs. Bird, Lime, Spin, and VeoRide have received invitations to submit final paperwork and begin operations in Cleveland. Each of these vendors will be providing scooters, with Bird doing e-bikes as well (these will be launching later this fall). This is all part of a 6 month demonstration program that intends to give the City the opportunity to evaluate the safety and impact of shared mobility use.

The city is conducting several educational events to help with public engagement, and they also recommend that you read their FAQ page that contains pertinent info about safety, proper parking, and also a portal for public feedback.

This is excellent news, and we hope it will encourage more people to bike and scoot instead of drive.

According to the city’s dockless road safety page “Scooters and bike(s) should be ridden in the street, following all traffic rules. Use bike lanes when possible.” While we fully embrace the use of these devices, and agree that they shouldn’t be on the sidewalk for pedestrian safety – their arrival will highlight how out-of-date the streets of Cleveland actually are for the growing number of active transportation users. New mobility choices require more dedicated space on our roadways for riders — especially in Downtown Cleveland, University Circle and surrounding neighborhoods, where scooters and e-bikes are likely to be ridden the most, but there is a glaring lack of dedicated bike lanes.

The opportunity:

Adding bike lanes (especially protected bike lanes) to our overly car-centric streets is critical to building a safe environment for people to use the newly permitted shared mobility devices. There is a plan, the City of Cleveland Bikeway Implementation Plan, that was adopted in 2014 and shared at our 2014 Annual Meeting (see the presentation of the plan here) by City of Cleveland staff.

Complete bike network identified in the 2014 City of Cleveland Bikeway Implementation Plan

Many of these projects have been completed (over 80 miles of new facilities lanes have been added by the City of Cleveland thanks to the Bikeway Implementation plan), but there are still crucial gaps in the bike network, and some existing bike lanes that need to be protected, to ensure people riding bikes and scooters can navigate our city safely.

With the addition of shared mobility devices, and the growing number of people biking and walking in Cleveland, we look forward to partnering with the City, and mobilizing residents and new allies, to support this growth of alternative mobility by completing our bike/ped network — regardless of the device people ride. The safety of people biking, walking, and riding shared mobility devices depends on it.