Welcome to San Diego. Don’t Mind the Scooters.
A year ago, electric rental scooters were hailed as the next big thing in transportation. But their troubles in San Diego show how the services have now hit growing pains.
I hopped onto a HealthyRide this morning for the first time since October. The bike number was 71000-something, meaning it was one of the original 500. Turns out it had a three-speed hub! When did that change? They used to be seven-speed.
I do know they just took possession of a couple hundred bikes that had been initially deployed by a rental system in New Jersey. Trenton, maybe? I know no details.
I read the BBC article, and keep coming back to one of the brighter ideas that got discussed on this board a while back, the construction of bike inclines. A couple well-placed inclines that would get cyclists up a major hill would greatly help getting bikes under a lot more people, especially if they’re sited near a transit station. Two that come to mind right away are just off the Herron Station of the East Busway, up to Downing Street, and South Bank or Central on the South Busway, up to Jacob Street. Likely a dozen more we could place, too. But whether a bike share station is set up in these places or not is less relevant than making it possible to use a bike in an area adjacent to a major transit line except for a huge elevation change.
I was in Denver recently, and rented a Lime ebike. While browsing the map in the Lime app I noticed that most of the ebikes in Denver charged $.29 per minute ($17/hr) while 10 or 20% of them charged only $.02 per minute ($1.20/hr). The former seemed exorbitant and the latter seemed like a great bargain (and probably unprofitable for Lime). What could explain the huge range of prices?
What would make the most difference is the amount of underwriting, whether from private or public sources. The capital costs of the rolling stock and initial maintenance facility aside, something has to pay the wages of the staff maintaining it, ongoing repair and maintenance costs, and keeping the lights on. Who’s paying that, and how much?