SLOW YOUR ROLL: Hoboken Scooter Program on Hold as Survey Results Announced; Possible Reintroduction in the Future
Were you as curious as we were to see how scooters would handle winter in Hoboken? Looks like we’re going to have to wait on that…
With the City’s pilot scooter program expiring last week, the fate of the micromobility initiative in Hoboken remains up in the air. While Hoboken riders have taken more than 640,000 trips on Lime scooters since May, ongoing concerns about safety have made for a bumpy ride.
Earlier today, the City of Hoboken released the results of its shared electric scooter end-of-pilot survey. Approximately 2,100 people participated in the survey between October 23 and November 10, 2019—93% were Hoboken residents, and 66% stated they had ridden a scooter at least once during the 6-month pilot program.
According to the results of the survey, 48.5% of respondents wanted to see the program return as is. Another 26% wanted to see it come back, but with improvements to the program. Meanwhile 25% disagreed with the notion that an e-scooter sharing program should continue in Hoboken.
Of those who responded to the public survey, 44% said they had used e-scooters at least 10 times during the pilot, while 33% said they had never used an e-scooter during the pilot. Consensus seems to be that the scooters made it easy to get around (64%), while 68% said that they agreed or strongly agreed that e-scooters should be better regulated. As for improvements, 44% of all respondents said that they would like to see safer infrastructure in a future e-scooter program, which was the most popular response after increased enforcement and resident discounts when prompted on potential changes.
CLICK on the images below for further breakdown of the survey:
(CLICK HERE for full survey results.)
Phil Jones, Senior Government Relations Director at Lime, said “The survey paints a broader picture that Hoboken residents thoroughly enjoy accessing a new, convenient way to get around over the past six months, and that the overwhelming majority would like the program to continue. This survey and our rider data demonstrated: scooters replaced hundreds of thousands of car trips in Hoboken, making the air cleaner and streets safer; scooters improved connections to transit, speeding up commutes and reducing traffic; scooters boosted local businesses by easing connections and making everything in town more accessible. As the first city in New Jersey to operate scooters, we are grateful to the City of Hoboken and its residents for welcoming our innovative transportation option, and look forward to continuing to serve the people of Hoboken in the future.”
Lime’s data serves a testament to the popularity of the scooter program. However, concerns over safety have been dominating the conversation here in Hoboken. Those concerns have been punctuated by last night’s fatality in nearby Elizabeth following a collision between a 16 year-old scooter rider and a tow truck. The scooter rider was rushed to the hospital following the collision around 8 p.m., where he died of his injuries. Elizabeth is just weeks into its scooter rideshare program with Lime.
“Understanding the legitimate concerns from residents regarding safety as well as the feedback from many users asking for e-scooters to continue,” said Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla in a statement last week, “I’ve asked the Chair of the City Council’s Transportation and Parking Subcommittee, Mike Russo and Councilmember Tiffanie Fisher to convene a working committee with my Director of Transportation, Ryan Sharp, to come up with both short term and long term recommendations regarding a potential e-scooter pilot extension and longer term program, along with other shared mobility services.”
Last Monday, an ad-hoc subcommittee made up of Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, Councilman Michael Russo, Councilwoman Emily Jabbour, met with Director Sharp and his team to address eScooters and examine a potential longer-term program.
“We [will] meet with all the big e-Scooter companies before the holidays to share the concerns and specific issues about Hoboken and collect information about what the ‘art of possible’ is,” said Fisher in a statement. “With this we prepare a detailed RFP to be sent by end of January that will incorporate very specific demands to address safety in particular. These may include things like geo-fencing certain areas and one-way streets, having corrals instead of just leaving anywhere, a system that would put more financial burden on eScooter companies to enforce given our own lack of enforcement resources, and addressing insurance and liability concerns.” Expressing that the timeline looks more like early Spring for scooters to be back on the streets, Fisher added, “the bar will be very high and will have to be met before this comes back to the Council for a vote.”
Getting laws on the books and developing solutions for enforcement have proven to be imperative. With or without a City-sanctioned scooter rideshare program, the reality is that micromobilty won’t go away. Electric scooters currently retail for $159—which means removing the scooter program would simply result in taking these things out of the hands of vendors who can theoretically be held accountable.
In an op-ed for hMAG.com back in July, it was noted that, “It will take thoughtful, pragmatic urban planning and inventive strategies for effective enforcement. It will take a coalition of stakeholders—residents, politicians, vendors, law enforcement—prepared to remain focused on a common goal. Because if Hoboken wants to have nice things, it has to factor in the true ‘density’ of its population, and have a plan to deal with it.”
With 74.5% of survey participants favoring some form of a return to a Hoboken scooter program, that plan will need to take shape between now and early Spring.