New Data and Rules for Dockless Scooters
Open data on 2 million dockless trips, plus new rules for riding on trails
It's been a big news week for electric scooters. UT baseball star David Hamilton had his 2019 season end before it even began, due to a torn Achilles tendon sustained in a scooter accident. Then the Austin Transportation Department released a treasure trove of dockless mobility data "in the spirit of transparency and collaboration," with the department's civic technologists inviting input and insights from Austin's robust open-data community on how to learn from our experience (see www.austintexas.gov/docklessmobility). Three portals track vehicle trips, where those trips occur within the city, and self-reported data from the industry. Those datasets document more than 2 million trips in the nine months since Lime, Bird, et al. came to Austin; we've already had more than 100,000 trips this month alone, the overwhelming majority of which were on scooters.
The growing popularity of the devices, as well as their obvious dangers, are enough reason for the city to keep fine-tuning its rules on the subject. That continued this week, with the Parks and Recreation Department announcing a pilot program to allow electric bikes and scooters on certain city parkland trails, a practice that is currently banned (not that anyone seems to care). From now until September, you can scoot or e-bike on the Johnson Creek, Shoal Creek (south of 15th St.), and Northern and Southern Walnut Creek Trails, as well as on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail and the Boardwalk along Lady Bird Lake (e-bikes only). During the program, the city will monitor usage to get feedback, update trail signage, and mount a public education campaign.