Next Up: Scooter Share

Thomas Breen photoUpdated—No smartphone? No problem. The city’s bike share system is about to replace its entire two-wheeled fleet with bicycles that riders can unlock without the help of an iPhone.

And did someone say ... electric scooters?

Yes they did, at the most recent Board of Alders City Services and Environmental Policy (CSEP) committee meeting in the Aldermanic Chambers on the second floor of City Hall.

The alders on the committee held an hour-and-a-half public hearing this past Thursday night to check in on Bike New Haven, the short-term bicycle rental program that launched in New Haven almost exactly a year ago, on Feb. 20, 2018. The program is run by the private New York City-based company P3GM.

During the hearing, Bike New Haven Manager Carolyn Lusch and P3GM CEO Carlos Pujol updated the alders on the number of bike share stations installed (31) so far, the number of registered users (over 3,000), the number of rental sessions and bicycle trips (over 10,000 and over 15,000, respectively), and the number of miles cycled (over 12,000) that have taken place over the program’s first year in the Elm City.

They informed the alders that they are swapping out the entire existing fleet of around 100 bicycles with a new build that is friendlier to users without smartphones. They’ll also be replacing all currently installed bike share bike racks with racks that have a new “sleeker” design. (Update: Lusch told the Independent on Wednesday afternoon that Pujol misspoke when he told the alders about new racks coming in. The bike share program will not be installing any new bike racks, she said.)

And, last but not least, they plans to introduce around 75 electric scooters to the local bike share program.

“We have noticed that not everyone likes to pedal,” Pujol said about the scooters . These new 77-pound electric scooters, built by a company called OjO, will thus allow New Haveners to scoot along city streets at up to 20 miles per hour without once having to rotate a single foot.

Here are some highlights from the bicycle and electric scooter updates:

• The new bicycles will be made by the German company nextbike. The current, and soon to be former, Bike New Haven bicycles are made by Noa Technologies.

“Clearly, despite our efforts, we have to recognizie that [the current bikes have] fallen short,” Pujol said on Thursday.

He and Lusch said that the biggest drawback to the existing bikes is that they require users to have a smartphone to participate in the program. One has to download the Bike New Haven app, register an account, link up a credit card, and then scan a QR code on the bicycle every time one wants to go for a spin.

The new bikes, Lusch said, will allow New Haveners to rent bikes by calling a dedicated phone line or by buying a voucher from a local brick-and-mortar Bike New Haven partner. The new bikes will also have onboard computer systems that will be able to accept payments without smartphones, she said. For the iPhone-inclined, the new bikes will also have their own dedicated app.

• Pujol and Lusch didn’t have any details on what the new bike racks will look like. But, Pujol said, the new racks will have a “more sleek design. All the material has been ordered.” (Update—Lusch later told the Independent that the program will not be installing new racks in New Haven, despite what she and Pujol had said during the committee hearing.)

• As for the new electric scooters, Bike New Haven hopes to roll out around 75 to existing bike share locations. The program aims to have its first scooters on the road by Earth Day on April 20.

“The features of that vehicle are really about safety,” Pujol said as described the rubber tires, shocks, lights, and two brakes on the handlebars.

The electric scooters will travel up to 20 miles per hour, as far as 50. The 110-volt vehicles have extendable plugs tucked in a compartment by the front wheel.

They also have a dashboard that will allow riders to connect their smartphones to a speaker system via bluetooth so they can jam away to their own music as they ride along in the bike lane.

Pujol said riders must have a driver’s license in order to rent a bike share scooter, and that P3GM has already rolled out these very scooters in their Austin, Tex. program, and have seen an enthusiastic early response.

“I am a little surprised that it was sort of mentioned in the mayor’s speech and there has been no public input,” Downtown Alder Abby Roth said, referencing Mayor Toni Harp’s brief aside about “mopeds” in her recent State of the City address.

Pujol said he believes that P3GM’s current contract with the city allows the company to introduce the electric scooters without any new public approvals required, That’s the guidance he has received from the city’s Transportation, Traffic & Parking Department, he said.

City transit chief Doug Hausladen and city transit deputy Michael Pinto also made an appearance before the alders on Thursday, but not so much to talk about the new electric scooters as to talk about neighbor complaints about the potential violation of state law presented by some of the bike share ad panels’ being located in historic districts and near public school playgrounds.

The two city transit officials said they have scheduled a meeting with the state Department of Transportation (DOT), which plans to send some of its officials to the Elm City to take a look in person at some of the ad panels and bike share stations. They promotes report back to the alders on whether or not the program is in violation of any state laws, after the visit with DOT officials takes place.

Correction: Bike New Haven Program Manager Carolyn Lusch issued the following corrections to statements made during the CSEP public hearing: The scooters will be 77 pounds each, not 45 pounds. They will have a 50 mile dual battery range, not a 50-75 mile range. Their top speed will be 20 miles per hour, but the speed can be determined by the city.

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posted by: 1644 on February 11, 2019  8:09am

Oh, boy.  I see these scooters being a danger to pedestrians when driven on sidewalks, and to their riders when driven in traffic.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on February 11, 2019  8:46am

During the hearing, Bike New Haven Manager Carolyn Lusch and P3GM CEO Carlos Pujol updated the alders on the number of bike share stations installed (31) so far, the number of registered users (over 3,000), the number of rental sessions and bicycle trips (over 10,000 and over 15,000, respectively), and the number of miles cycled (over 12,000) that have taken place over the program’s first year in the Elm City.

Snake-Oil and Three Card Monte Being Sold.I do not trust the Numbers.

City transit chief Doug Hausladen and city transit deputy Michael Pinto also made an appearance before the alders on Thursday, but not so much to talk about the new electric scooters as to talk about neighbor complaints about the potential violation of state law presented by some of the bike share ad panels’ being located in historic districts and near public school playgrounds.

I knew take Back New Haven Doug Hausladen would show up.You even got the Slick pony tail wearing Hippie Winter. who voted for the Bones man Bush.Looks like All the players are at the sell out the people table.

posted by: anonymous on February 11, 2019  9:49am

Yep, let’s complain about a few scooters, instead of doing something about the multiple pedestrians run over and squashed to death by cars in New Haven just in the past few weeks.

posted by: robn on February 11, 2019  10:28am

Those numbers mean that 1.33 trips were taken from each station each day last year.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on February 11, 2019  11:06am

Robn, not exactly. The program rolled out in stages - there weren’t 31 stations for the full year. But I expect the addition of the scooters reflects the fact that the bikes were used infrequently.

posted by: ADAK on February 11, 2019  11:07am

Is this costing the city money to replace all these bikes and bike racks and equipment? I hope not.

The bikes worked fine IMO, despite a time or two that my phone couldn’t read the QR code. I wish there were stations in Edgewood and Westville.

posted by: ItsGettingBetter on February 11, 2019  11:07am

I think the biggest drawback to bikeshare is the docks. While the city was thoughtful about the locations it is too cumbersome a project to try to place the spots at the right locations for everyone. I’d rather deal with high use and bike litter than a relatively unused system.

posted by: ItsGettingBetter on February 11, 2019  11:10am

Why sit down scooters? Those are not what has proven successful in other cities? Line of site is not as good on these.

posted by: cunningham on February 11, 2019  11:21am

Gentrification I get, but I will never understand THREEFIFTHS’ bizarre hatred of bicycles.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on February 11, 2019  12:02pm

posted by: anonymous on February 11, 2019 9:49am
Yep, let’s complain about a few scooters, instead of doing something about the multiple pedestrians run over and squashed to death by cars in New Haven just in the past few weeks.

How many of those pedestrians was jay walking,Talking on Cell phones when crossing the Streets?.So do not put it all on car owners.

Dangers of Texting While Walking

Pedestrian Deaths Have Risen

The deaths of pedestrians have risen over the last few years with more. Back in 2013, a study showcased that 4,109 deaths have taken place and more than 4,432 died in 2011. More than 69,000 people in that year were injured alone. These statistics were all gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Another study from the Ohio State University conducted that distracted walking has caused more than two million injuries in the last few years alone.Location has been found to be a high ef inning factor on the accidental statistics. Statistics have shown that most accidents and traffic deaths have taken place in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. These areas are known for having the most amount of pedestrian accidents.

Too Many Pedestrians Injured by Looking at Their Phones

They walk in front of cars, and into tree limbs and street signs. They fall off curbs and bridges into wet cement and creek beds. They are distracted walkers who, while calling or texting on mobile phones, have suffered cuts and bruises, sustained serious head injuries or even been killed.Pedestrian injuries due to cell phone use are up 35 percent since 2010, according to federal emergency room data reviewed by Stateline, and some researchers attributes about a half-dozen pedestrians deaths a year to “portable electronic devices,” including phones and music players.

http://www.governing.com/topics/transportation-infrastructure/too-many-pedestrians-injured-by-looking-at-their-phones.html

posted by: WMACHQ on February 11, 2019  12:12pm

Recently I was in Kansas City MO. And got to see public electric scooters there. They seemed to be used by many people. In fact I realized that I saw more people on electric scooters there then any I saw on the pedal bikes here. Aside from the physical exercise that was lost, they seem to be very successful. We wondered if they would ever show up in New Haven!
Bill

posted by: 1644 on February 11, 2019  12:14pm

Cunningham: One of the few (only) things I agree with you on.  I haven’t ridden a bicycle in decades, but I am thrilled if Paul Bass and Kevin McCarthy do.  Yes, I am even willing to give up a parking space for them.  Why?  Their two bikes will fit in one space,  leaving one extra for me!  Besides, they might have heart attacks bicycling, which pushes out the insolvency date for Social Security!  :)

[Paul: To be honest, I haven’t been riding my bike to work lately. Mostly walking, occasionally taking the bus. Getting old, not enjoying doing battle on the roads with drivers. Really enjoy walking.]

posted by: Bill Saunders on February 11, 2019  1:31pm

Block Island, here we come!

posted by: Bill Saunders on February 11, 2019  1:48pm

So, the riding aspect of this program generated approximately 30k/year.
The advertising aspect (using 20 station ‘average’) generated approximately 30k/month.

That is a far cry from the ‘presented business model’ of 1/3 advertising, 2/3 ridership.
An MBA would say ‘Screw the bikes, more ad panels!’

ps - Will it be more expensive to rent a scooter than a bike? 
pps—Are there any future plans to replace the scooters with quads?

ppps—Welcome to ‘pedestrian-hood’, Paul Bass.  This is the best town for it!

posted by: LookOut on February 11, 2019  4:08pm

can anyone explain the distribution?  Why are there 4 stations in Fair Haven and none in Beaver Hills?

posted by: AMDC on February 11, 2019  4:52pm

When they fall/crash,  who gets sued???

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on February 11, 2019  5:45pm

posted by: cunningham on February 11, 2019 11:21am

Gentrification I get, but I will never understand THREEFIFTHS’ bizarre hatred of bicycles.

I have never said I have a hatred of bicycles.I said I have a problem the way the law is enforced when it comes to bicycles.

posted by: CrowsNest on February 11, 2019  10:10pm

These will surely be a success. As it stands, pedestrians, drivers, and bicyclists alike are each highly adept at obeying th city’s traffic regulations. I’m always astounded at how each group pays such close attention to their surroundings, and with a mode of traffic transportation not often used before by some, this will undoubtedly be the case as well.

The current crop of bright green bicycles have been lovely to look at parked on curbs as it is. The new electric scoots will be an added bonus. They will pair well with our resident ATVs and dirt bikers, and are assuredly prepared for winter elements, plentiful potholes and the speed bumps on every stretch of the road. Without a doubt, Hausladen has done it again! I can hardly contain my joy at his continued brilliance.

posted by: Dennis Serf on February 12, 2019  12:12am

CrowsNest: Bingo!!
If this were the private sector a few people would be looking for new jobs and somebody would be doing a postmortem to figure out what the heck happened.

It would be nice if we could go back and look at the original bill of goods we were sold, and compare it to what actually happened.

And one wonders why no stations in Edgewood or Westville. I mean, plenty of space for the racks and lots of nice places to ride.


Dennis Serfilippi
https://www.ournewhaven.org

posted by: Bill Saunders on February 12, 2019  2:04am

Crows Nest and Dennis Serf,

Firstly, the sarcasm is greatly appreciated!

Secondly, the bike share is a giveaway of public space and a ‘financial no-go’.
As predicted…..

Unfortunately, this disaster is going to be tweaked and re-tweaked for the duration of the five-year ‘contract’.

If ridership numbers are an ‘advertising price point’, I don’t see the value for advertisers in ‘the market’, especially given the advertising model present to the Board of Alders.

As non-zoned advertising on a public right of way, however,  those ad panels are priceless.

Hell, even City Wide Open Studios has had an ad panel up for the past couple months (post event, even).

I bet that was a free give-away to a local non-profit! 
I don’t see Artspace paying 10 grand for advertising space!

If they did, there’s a bigger problem!
(Maybe there was a bike tour!!!!!)

posted by: Bill Saunders on February 12, 2019  2:59pm

I’ve been using Zipcar on occasion lately to run some ‘out of town’ errands.  I think it is a great service.  I’m surprised at how inexpensive, convenient, and available these vehicles are for short trips ($7.50/hr, which includes free gas up to 180 miles)

Even the membership fee has come down from $200/yr to $25.  The ‘collision damage waiver’ is another $10/yr.

When I go to the Howe Street Garage to pick up my car (there are two vehicles stored there), there are also a hundred or so bikes (that actually belong to people) that are racked in that space.

Meanwhile, across the street, in the rain, slush, and snow, sit 8 green bikes that never get used.

posted by: Westville voter on February 12, 2019  5:58pm

More math: 3000 registered users, 15000 trips, 12000 miles in 1 year. Each user has taken an average of 5 trips (less than 1 every 10 weeks!) and ridden 4 miles (approximately 400 ft. per week!). I suspect people have spent more time in meetings arguing about these bikes than people have spent riding them. Sometimes “build it and they will come” doesn’t work. Time to pull the plug on this one.

posted by: concerned_neighbor on February 12, 2019  6:25pm

IN the cradle of patronage and pork, Hartford, LimeBike is DEAD.

https://www.courant.com/community/hartford/hc-news-hartford-lime-bikes-20190212-gbutjhwymzbk3fkinzyvh4fuv4-story.html

posted by: Bill Saunders on February 12, 2019  6:44pm

Westville voter,

It reminds me of when Destefano bought two Electric Trolleys on a ‘political whim’, after visiting New Orleans. 
File Under: More Failed Political Experiments.

You know, we should never let our public officials visit other Cities while they are in office
When they come back, they always want to be the first to turn ‘us’ into into the next ‘them’.

posted by: missthenighthawks on February 12, 2019  9:15pm

Before we jump into motorized scooters I hope someone looks into what is happening elsewhere in the country.

https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Woman-sues-Lime-after-a-scooter-accident-left-her-13607561.php


Fort Lauderdale FL has suffered 40 scooter related traffic incidents in just the month of January and the majority ended up in the emergency room, with 4 being considered level 1 critical trama. The numebr fo deaths to riders and pedestrians is discussed in the article above and they are climbing. We dont need more moving obstacles on our streets.

posted by: robn on February 12, 2019  11:00pm

The problem with electric scooters and in particular, electric razor scooters is that they’re treated like toys and ridden dangerously on sidewalks. I’ve personally seen this in several cities that have adopted them. Given NHV’s lack of driver/cyclist/pedestrian civility, I would expect no better behavior,

posted by: RobotShlomo on February 13, 2019  11:45am

“Clearly, despite our efforts, we have to recognize that [the current bikes have] fallen short,” Pujol said on Thursday.

“Fallen short”? I’d call a half a ride per day more than just falling short.NHI blocks the Yale Daily News piece about how the system has been largely ignored by residents, but you can search that very easily on Google. Bike shares are also failing in cities like Pasadena and Baltimore.

https://baltimorefishbowl.com/stories/the-baltimore-bike-share-system-is-about-to-fail-again/

https://www.pasadenastarnews.com/2018/09/21/lessons-from-a-failed-bike-share-program-in-pasadena/

https://free.vice.com/en_us/article/ne5yeg/bike-share-systems-fail-underserved-communities


After what, about a year or so that the “bike share” has been rolled out, I’ve finally seen someone actually RIDING these things. At this rate I probably won’t see someone else riding them for another two years.

This is looking more and more like a boondoggle, and I don’t get to use that word very often. I still have to ask the question of who are these really for? Are they for the residents who already live in these areas, or are they the young “hip” residents you HOPE to lure into these communities? Because from the looks of things, that ain’t happening.

Making the case that Austin has already started a scooter rental doesn’t work. Austin has warm weather year round and it’s relatively flat. It’s also a different atmosphere where it’s a source of pride to say “Keep Austin Weird”. There’s only one way to make this work, and that’s if gas prices suddenly went to $8 a gallon. That’s not happening soon. Also, can we please stop calling this a bike “share”. I know how hipsters and Millennials love to give things names in an effort to make them seem special, but call it what it really is; a bike RENTAL.

posted by: Bill Saunders on February 13, 2019  12:35pm

Interesting Googling, Robot,

How is it that Yale started their own separate bike share at the same time The City did?

So Classic!!!!

posted by: Bill Saunders on February 13, 2019  12:40pm

I also find it curious that Pujols and Company are asking the Alders to approve a ‘new sleeker design’ for the bike racks, without the design itself!  ‘Just take our word for it!’

Isn’t this how we got where we are with this program to begin with?

posted by: Bill Saunders on February 13, 2019  12:47pm

The other thing that was omitted from this article is ‘who’s in charge of ‘the charge’‘?

Are riders expected to use the extended plug under the wheel and their own outlet, or is the Scooter Rental Service going to make sure that the vehicles are always ‘juiced up’.

posted by: omgreally1977 on February 13, 2019  4:32pm

Thousands of people rent these bikes!  Who you gonna believe, the honest advertising company or your lyin’ eyes?  This is a brilliant Billboard Company that uses the cost of bike depreciation to pay for its billboard locations.  And since they are hardly ever rented, the bikes actually deprecate much slower than their accountant uses for taxes.  They told New Haven’s leaders what they wanted to hear.  Biking is healthy and less polluting than cars.  But, the new scooters are powered by polluting electric plants, offer no exercise, and are more dangerous.  The people who approved free billboard locations in exchange for feel good unrented bikes have got to keep spinning this story……Scooters, that’s the ticket!  Our unrented Scooters Make Us Great!  SMUG!  Let’s get hats.

posted by: Bill Saunders on February 13, 2019  7:11pm

OMG,

I think Ms. Pujols shouldn’t be working on salary, but on a ‘per bike-miles’ basis.
Maybe then there would be some personal accountability.

If she made 60K this year, that’s $5/mile, assuming 100% Bike Usage.
We know that is a huge fallacy.  “Boondoggle” is right.

I thought this program was supposed to be cheaper than gas!

But that is not what this is about.
This is about ‘Big Money’  jockeying for position in a new ‘perceived market’.

We are small enough and smart enough to take this ‘perceived opportunity’, and and roll it out on a small scale with local ‘entrepreneurs’, that might grow into something that is both local and sustainable. 

The numbers certainly show we don’t need millions of dollars or outsiders.

Innovation, you know.
All us small cities want it…....