Out of Room in the Right-of-Way?
It was almost two decades ago that city planners and traffic engineers began to ask themselves, “Where in the right-of-way does the Segway belong?” With the concepts like “smart-mobility” still on the horizon, public street planning in the U.S. largely only considered two uses: pedestrians and automobiles. Often, pedestrian accommodations were not required in suburban and rural areas.
Although the Segway did not make the splash that investors like Jeff Bezos thought it might, it did get people thinking about the future of mobility. Now, a typical urban right-of-way must provide for increased pedestrian safety, traditional vehicular travel, pull-offs for taxis and ride-sharing (Uber, Lyft, etc.), traditional bicycles, bicycle-sharing stations, and public transit.
It appears that in 2019, the challenges facing the Segway have been overcome as evident by the popularization of the dockless scooter. Finally, the cost of hardware is low enough and the mobile technology is mature enough to revive a mode of transportation that is too fast for sidewalks, but too slow and exposed for travel with automobiles.
The City of Austin, TX may be the community that is most willing to experiment with this new form of transportation. They experienced all-time high ridership for the month of March 2019 due to the confluence of the SXSW conference, good weather, and thousands of scooters scattered across the downtown area. The city is also collaborating with the CDC on a study regarding the safety of dockless electric scooters.
Is it too soon to build a scooter symbol into AutoSTRIPE?