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Learning About the Dockless Rollout in the Charm City

 

Liz Cornish of Bikemore (blue Jacket and white hat) talking about scooter deployment near Baltimore’s Inner Harbor

In 2018, the City of Baltimore launched a dockless e-scooter pilot program to study the implementation issues that included safety, deployment in what the City calls equity zones and public support for the program. The City Department of Transportation has finished the report and recommended that the program become permanent.

You can read the report here.

To learn about the program, we reached out to our peer organization Bikemore; Executive Director Liz Cornish and Policy Director Jed Weeks then agreed to host us for a day-long fact-finding trip. Our group included Councilman Mark Squilla, PA State representatives Mike Carroll of Scranton and Sara Innamorato of Pittsburgh and State Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator Roy Gothie.

The Maryland Ave Protected Bike Lane in front of Bikemore’s Office.

We began our trip at Bikemore’s office in Central Baltimore, situated along Maryland Avenue, the City’s 3 mile showcase protected bike lane from the Inner Harbor to Wyman Park Dell just south of Johns Hopkins University.

We then traveled to the East Inner Harbor where got to test out the Lime Scooters and heard from a bike and scooter commuter at Exelon who talked about how her company addressed this new transport mode. We then went to the Baltimore offices of Ballard Spahr for lunch with some of the City’s shared mobility leaders.

The absence of bicycles in the study did not go unnoticed. In August, Baltimore cancelled its troubled docked bike share program, at the same time Lime and other dockless providers have cut back bike deployment in favor of the more-popular scooters.

We heard from Jon Laria, Chair of the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Commission, who stated that Baltimore has lots to learn from Philadelphia with the success of Indego and they were hoping that we can host their group in the future. Megan Young, Baltimore’s Shared Mobility Coordinator, noted that there are many people who prefer bikes over scooters said that the City will ensure that there will be incentives for firms to include e-bikes in their permit applications. Baltimore Councilman Leon Pinkett spoke about how shared mobility improves the low cost transportation choices needed for the residents of his district.

At the end of the day we got to question representatives of Lime and Bird and ultimately the issue of charging came up and how do they contract out this work (interesting that they brand people with similar jobs: Bird simply calls them “Chargers” although they were formally referred to as “Bird Hunters”, while Lime calls them “Juicers”).

Like Philadelphia, Baltimore’s bicycle network faces political challenges.

On March 30th, late on a Friday, Mayor Pugh ordered the removal of the City’s other protected bike lane on Roland Parkway due to strong opposition from the Roland Park Civic League. Last year, a Baltimore firefighter was arrested for assaulting an employee of the City’s Planning department at a public bike lane meeting.

We are indebted to Baltimore Councilman Leon Pinkett; and Jon Laria, Chair of the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Commission; and Liz Cornish and Jed Weeks of Bikemore; for organizing the day and for welcoming us by giving their time on Monday to share with us their experience with dockless scooters.  Maggie Gendron and Shari Shapiro at Lime, Monica Laufer at Bird, were also there to offer information about the companies’ work. A special thanks to Jon Laria for hosting us for lunch at his Ballard Spahr office.

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Topics: Biking Outside The Region, Featured, research, Scooters

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