DOT Set to Launch E-Scooter Pilot Program in the East Bronx

Map of the pilot areas for the e-scooter program across the East Bronx. Image Credit: DOT

Over two years, the program will serve an area of over 500,000 residents in the East Bronx. On August 17, 2021, the Department of Transportation’s E-Scooter Pilot program will launch in the East Bronx. Through the program, E-Scooter companies Bird, Lime, and Veo will bring 3,000 e-scooters in the first phase of the program, with an additional 3,000 scooters to be rolled out in Phase 2 of the program next year. 

Phase 1 of the program covers the neighborhoods of Woodlawn, Wakefield, Eastchester, Edenwald, Williamsbridge, Olinville, Baychester, Co-op City, Pelham Parkway, Pelham Gardens, Pelham Bay, Morris Park and Van Nest. Next year, Phase 2 will expand the program to the neighborhoods of Country Club, Westchester Square, Parkchester, Unionport, Schuylerville, Throggs Neck, Castle Hill, Soundview, and Clason Point. The pilot service area will be geo-fenced to prevent e-scooters from leaving the area. 

E-scooters can be unlocked via each company’s app and are currently limited to riders 18 and older. The companies have announced the following rates: Veo and Bird are both $1 to unlock and $0.39 a minute; Lime is $1 to unlock and $.30 per minute. Discounted pricing will be available to low income New Yorkers enrolled in federal and state assistance programs. 

The program follows the passage of legislation by the City Council in June 2020 that legalized the use of electric scooters in the city to provide a new shared mobility option for the city. The pilot program zones were designed to not overlap with neighborhoods targeted by Citibike’s expansion. The Department of Transportation issued a Request for Expression of Interest in October 2020 and asked about equipment, pricing, equity policies, discounts, features, accessibility options and a launch schedule, as well as companies’ past performance in other US cities.

The agreements with the participating e-scooter companies will allow DOT to test various strategies for clutter management and gather data about usage, safety, parking behavior and other factors. Companies must also adhere to DOT’s Vision Zero safety goals, and will utilize safety and accessibility features like in-app safety tests for new riders; voluntary in person lessons; accessible vehicle options like seated scooters and wheelchair attachments; and a “beginner’ mode that requires a user’s first 30 minutes of trips to be limited to 10 mph and not occur during nighttime. 

DOT and the companies engaged in extensive community engagement ahead of the program’s launch, including siting e-scooter parking corrals and providing education about the program and its safety and equity components. DOT and the companies met with community boards, local BIDs, medical facilities and others. Lime and Veo have collectively held almost 15 public demonstrations and given away helmets. The companies strongly encourage helmet use, although it is not legally required.

As a result of community engagement, over 90 e-scooter corrals have been installed along busy corridors within the pilot area. Maps of e-scooter corral parking within each of the covered community districts can be found here. Riders who want to park in areas that feature corrals must use the corrals. In other areas that do not have corrals, riders can park on sidewalks, against the curb and out of the pedestrian path of travel.

DOT will release a report with agency recommendations following the two-year pilot program.

DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman stated, “This is an exciting announcement as we officially bring shared micromobility to the East Bronx community. With safety as our top priority, we look forward to a continued collaboration with Bird, Lime and Veo, elected officials and local Bronx communities to make e-scooter share an effective, convenient, and equitable way to get around.”

Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Transportation Committee stated, “New York City set a goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, and I intend to do all I can to ensure we meet that goal. Increasing access to micro-mobility options will help New Yorkers embrace alternative forms of transportation and reduce our carbon emissions footprint. The City’s E-scooter pilot program will provide East Bronx residents with a sustainable and more environmentally friendly mode of transportation.” 

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)



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