With well over a quarter million rides since its May 20 rollout, Hoboken’s scooter program is as successful as it is polarizing.
Concerns about safety, enforcement, and overall quality of life are being weighed against the obvious convenience and efficiency of an electric scooter rideshare program in our small yet densely populated city. The six-month “pilot program” is set to face further evaluation in November—immediately after the municipal elections for City Council.
In an effort to seemingly address concerns over the program, the City of Hoboken has proposed a new contract with Lime and OjO, the electric rideshare scooter providers, which would see 35 cents per ride go to the City for the duration of the pilot program. That money is reportedly meant to be invested in enforcement, education tools, and enhanced transportation infrastructure—including protected bike lanes.
“Our pilot electric scooter programs have provided residents with an additional, green transportation option to travel within our City,” said Mayor Ravi Bhalla. “This amended contract will help provide funds dedicated specifically for enforcement to help ensure rules and regulations are being followed, as well as important infrastructure upgrades including protected bike lanes to provide safer roads for all users. I’m hopeful these tools will help improve the e-scooter experience in Hoboken as we evaluate the future of the program.”
According to the proposed contract, the $0.35 will be made up of $0.20-contribution per ride from the scooter companies, while users will contribute the remaining $0.15. There will also be a scooter ID plate requirement, for help in reporting violators, and a shared data system for user violations.
“We are very encouraged by the initial OjO ridership data and use cases in the first two months, and will continue to work with the City to ensure the safety of the public,” said Matt Finelli, P3GM’s operations manager. “We support the revised terms of the pilot as it calls for additional fees to finance enforcement and build out infrastructure to support the City’s Vision Zero safety goal of eliminating all traffic-related deaths and injuries by 2030. OjO and P3GM understand the need for investments in infrastructure and enforcement to best manage new modes of mobility.”
“Hoboken’s e-scooter program is extremely popular. To meet the high demand, Lime and the City worked together to increase safety and improve infrastructure,” said Phil Jones, Senior Director of East Coast Government Relations and Strategic Partnerships at Lime. “Hoboken has taken the lead in supporting new modes of transportation in the Tri-State area, and continues to explore new ways to improve its transportation network so that residents have affordable, reliable, and convenient options around the Mile Square City.”
Lime has in fact taken significant steps to try to reel in Hoboken riders. They’re removing users from the platform for illegal behavior, including riding on sidewalks, running red lights and underage riding. Meanwhile Lime’s new scooter training course, First Ride Academy, teaches riders the proper way to ride a scooter in Hoboken. Too little too late for a 35 year-old man on a scooter who hit a pedestrian and attempted to flee the scene, only to be caught by Hoboken Police blocks away and become the city’s first arrest for a scooter-related violation.
As for Hoboken-specific solutions, Lime has called upon its own technology to create a slow-zone in the densely packed area along the city’s scenic Waterfront.
— Lime_NJ (@Lime_NJ) July 3, 2019
Also Lime has pledged to implement a “Lime Heroes” program, which will contribute funds to the local non-profit, the Hoboken Community Center. E-scooter users will have the option to round up the cost of each ride to the nearest dollar or two dollars, which Lime will contribute directly to the Hoboken Community Center.
“The Hoboken Community Center manages a housing program that provides over 90 low and moderate income men with affordable housing, and we are beginning the rehabilitation of a historic building that will serve all of Hoboken with new recreational and cultural programs,” said Hoboken Community Center President Ken Nilsen. “Support from the Lime Hero program will benefit both these important missions, and the cooperation of Mayor Bhalla and Lime to support this important community resource is greatly appreciated.”
As for the infrastructural improvements, discussions are underway on the topic of Protected Bike Lanes.
“It is great to hear the City of Hoboken is allocating a portion of this additional e-scooter revenue toward protected bike lanes which provide the safe infrastructure that bicyclists and scooter riders need and want,” said Chris Adair, President of Bike Hoboken. “Giving people a safe, dedicated place to ride, minimizes injury and is a proven method to decreasing sidewalk riding.”
Injuries from the scooters have been a concern in markets worldwide—underscored by a fatality in Nashville the day before Hoboken rolled out its program. Apprehension here in Hoboken became apparent on day one, and uneasiness over the program continues in the face of ongoing anecdotal and documented misuse.
— Bad Scooterists Hoboken (@BadHoboken) July 3, 2019
The proposed new contract will go before City Council on Wednesday, August 7.