Scooters, e-bikes gain traction as virus lockdowns ease

first_imgLime, which has agreed to take over the Uber Jump scooters and bikes, said it has seen “exponential” growth in cities such as Paris, Washington, Tel Aviv, Oklahoma City and Zurich, among others,Spin recently unveiled plans to launch its shared e-scooters in Cologne and other German cities, and will expand in US cities including Atlanta.Spin said it had seen weekly usage increases of some 30 percent since April with people using scooters for longer periods.The scooters “are being used now more than ever as a utility rather than for leisurely activities,” said Euwyn Poon, president and cofounder of Spin.Global scooter operator Bird also said business is looking up, with North American ridership more than double pre-pandemic levels.”Around the world, an increasing number of people are trying micromobility for the first time,” Bird said in a blog post. Electric bikes and scooters, dismissed before the pandemic as a curiosity or nuisance, are getting fresh traction in cities seeking new transportation options as they emerge from lockdowns.Some “micromobility” operators which cut back or shut down during the coronavirus lockdowns are now expanding to meet growing demands.Shared mobility operators Lime, Bird and Ford-owned Spin report robust growth in cities worldwide, despite a near-shutdown of tourism, as people turn to scooters and e-bikes for commuting or errands. Finding an economic model Harriet Tregoning, director of the Numo Alliance, a nonprofit group focused on urban mobility, said the economic model for shared micromobility firms remains murky.Venture-funded firms which cater to tourists and college campuses may only marginally help with post-COVID transportation needs, she said.These services have more value if integrated into transportation systems, Tregoning said.This could be done in coordination with transit agencies to help reach underserved areas, with the possibility of public or employer subsidies for “bundled” subscriptions.Tregoning said micromobility can become a more important element if cities invest and coordinate with transportation agencies.”Cities need to invest in bikesharing and create a strategic relationship to transit,” she said.Technology analyst Richard Windsor said e-bikes “are a good replacement for public transportation because the motor assistance makes the commute much easier for those that are less fit or do not want to arrive at the office drenched in sweat.”But Windsor writes on his Radio Free Mobile blog that the trend “points towards a user preference towards ownership and away from sharing.” Topics :center_img Shifting gears In the months before the pandemic, some local officials were decrying dockless bikes and scooters as nuisances creating sidewalk “clutter.”But the pandemic has changed the outlook, with fear of crowds cutting transit ridership by 70 to 90 percent.”The pandemic has certainly changed the way communities view micromobility,” said Susan Shaheen, co-director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California at Berkeley.”Anecdotal evidence suggests that a lot of communities are considering micromobility as an important strategy to maintain social/physical distancing as the economy reopens.”Traditional bicycling is also experiencing a revival in many urban areas, spurred by new protected lanes which may be used by the small electric vehicles as well.The pandemic disruption “has created fertile ground” for micromobility, said Annie Chang, head of new mobility for the engineering association SAE International and author of a report on COVID’s impact on transportation.”I think people have begun to see the value of tiny vehicles and that value will increase as the technology improves.”Without new options, she noted, many cities could see a rise in auto traffic and congestion. “People are desperate for open air transportation where they can maintain social distancing,” said David Spielfogel, chief policy officer at Lime, which has relaunched in most of its 100-plus cities.Spielfogel said city officials have warmed to the idea of micromobility despite a cool attitude just months earlier.”There has been a sea change in the attitude of cities from seeing micromobility as  novelty primarily used by tourists to seeing bikes and scooters as a core piece of the transportation system that will thrive in the post-pandemic period,” he said.”Cities are afraid that people will return to cars, so they see this as a good option.”last_img read more

The State of Play: Recapping the semester in sports, politics and American society

first_imgSports fans and American society are still different in one fundamental way. In sports, drop a couple of passes or hold your team back and you will find your ass on the bench. Lead your team to a losing record and every fan within a 3,500-mile radius of you will repay you with an all-American “fuck you” and pray for your unemployment.  Many readers (and by many I mean my dad), would call this the end of an era. For 16 weeks, I have put my blood, sweat and tears into “The State of Play.” Unfortunately, all good things in life — and in the case of my column, unfailingly mediocre things — must come to an end, and that is where we are today.  My friends, the end is finally here.  OK, so you accept the reality that sports and politics intersect, but should they? Should Kaepernick take a knee during the national anthem and should LeBron James express his political views? So with that being said, here are my two biggest takeaways from the semester.  I’ve heard enough of this:  For the last time, sports and politics cannot be separated. So, considering that this will likely be my last opportunity to spout off for the umpteenth time about why politics and sports intersect, I’d like to write a recap of sorts. After writing this column, I can confidently say that it’s taught me a lot.  Just think back on Colin Kaepernick, North Korea at the Winter Olympics, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s Twitter beef with the People’s Republic of China. Even today, we’re witnessing how a lack of government preparedness and leadership can lead to the cancellation of the sports world as we know it. I got plenty more examples where that came from, but I’ll spare you.  Because this false belief continues to manifest itself in the hearts and minds of sports fans everywhere, I’m going to try to dispel it one last time. Politics and sports intersect, and should intersect, in more ways than I can count.  “Keep your lib-tard sensibilities off of my gameday,” said a hypothetical but incredibly accurate portrait of a generic sports fan that I just created. “Sports and politics mix just as well as Cosmopolitan Magazine mixes with my raised Ford Super Duty.”  Unfortunately, in American politics, the same principles sports fans adhere to do not apply. Commit a crime against American democracy and your buddies in the Senate will sacrifice every shred of their dignity to make sure you make it through a trial scot-free. Tell Americans to inject themselves with disinfectant and … well … it looks like Fox News is still working on cleaning that mess up.  Listen, sports are how we pass on and instill American values. They’re part of how we teach our society about hard work, fairness and respect. I think we can all agree on that, no matter what kind of car you drive or what cable news network you watch.  I’ve heard statements like this countless times. You’ve heard countless statements like this. We’ve all heard countless statements like this, and despite mounting evidence to disprove said statements, people continue to believe that sports and politics do not belong in the same conversation.  For that reason alone, it looks like Americans still have a lot to learn from sports.  This is because, for better or for worse, fans still value success. They still care about winning, and they care about the people in charge of their teams winning. Hire a schmuck to take over any college or professional franchise and they’ll have the guy tarred and feathered over social media before the hiring is even made official.  Perhaps more than anything else, however, it’s taught me that we actually have quite a lot to learn from sports, more than even I realized despite my card-carrying status as a sports fanatic and wannabe political theorist.  For one, it’s taught me that Chicago Bears fans are the biggest snowflakes that NFL fandom has to offer — I’m looking directly at you, Steven — and it’s also taught me that a lot of the higher ups in professional sports are a bunch of feckless bastards, though I’ll admit that I probably already knew that, to an extent.  USC won the Pac-12 Championship in 2017 and I still considered the season a failure. Clay Helton won eight games last year while playing a backup true freshman at quarterback for the majority of the season. When it was announced that Helton would be back for another go-around, I think a part of the Trojan Family died.  Stuart Carson is a junior writing about the intersection of sports, politics and American society. He is also a sports editor at the Daily Trojan. His column, “The State of Play,” typically ran every other Wednesday. What I’m saying is that in sports, unlike in politics, you can’t pull a fast one over your fans. Whether it’s on the field or on the court, failure and incompetence are on display for all to see, and no amount of bullshit will ever cover it up.  The point I’m trying to make here is that you can’t preach integrity and perseverance to your kid’s Little League team if every time an athlete talks about equality, you throw a fit and turn the game off.  Stupidity and failure. No, I’m not talking about the working title of my pending autobiography. I’m talking about the two things sports fans still never tolerate. last_img read more