They are coming. No, wait, they are already here — They literally just showed up overnight. Electric scooters and bikes are starting to show up everywhere, in particular, major cities.
I love them, and my love affair began while attending government fleet events in California this summer, in particular, GFX 2018 in San Diego. I stayed a few blocks from the convention center and would ride the bright green and yellow Lime bike everywhere: to breakfast, to the convention center, to dinner, and then back to the hotel. Best of all, I’d always have the best parking spot, just feet away from the front door. I have used these services in Los Angeles, Calif.; Long Beach, Calif.; Durham, N.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; St. Petersburg, Fla.; and several other locations.
The potential for these services are huge. But they come with a bunch of unknowns, too. Could they eventually end up as a part of your fleet?
Just like every other new service or technology, the first step is changing the habits of potential users. Let’s say you have been using a motor pool in your fleet to get around but now, a bike share shows up outside your building. Wouldn’t it be easier to hop on a bike and ride several blocks instead of driving? Think of the ease of parking, the health benefits, getting some fresh air, and oh yeah, automatic kudos for absolutely zero emissions for that ride.
In 2015, my previous organization, the City of Norfolk, Va., started a “City Bike Share” program for employees who work at City Hall. The bike share operated out of the lobby in City Hall, directly across from the centralized motor pool I deployed in late 2016. Employees could hop on a bike right there or they could check out a car — the choice was for them to make. Fleet was not involved with tracking those bikes, but the conversation did once come up about tracking them as an asset in our fleet management information system.
Scooter and bike sharing services still have a bunch of work to do. For one, they need to stop dumping scooters off in cities without the appropriate permitting. This action puts organizations in a tough spot. Citizens and tourists may love them, but government agencies have a process for operating a business, and they must take appropriate action if laws are broken. Most leaders want these services in their area, but not without following the rules.
Just recently in Norfolk, BIRD scooters did one of these night-drop operations, and the city quickly acted by impounding the bikes. Councilwoman Andria McClellen, a rockstar and forward-thinking Norfolk city council member, recently said on Twitter, “This in-the-middle-of-the-night approach is totally unacceptable and does not make me inclined to support this company.” She isn’t opposed to the idea at all; she just wants the rules to be followed.
As a fleet manager, anything transportation related needs to be on your radar, and keeping an open mind is key. A few years from now, once everything is ironed out and bike shares become a staple in your area, they may find a way into your fleet. As the political pressure mounts for sustainable action plans, bikes, electric bikes, and electric scooters could be a home run.
Certainly, there are many things to consider, particularly liability. But just go through the mental exercise. Whether it’s your idea, or it’s jammed down your throat, how would you handle a program like this as part of your fleet? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Originally posted on Government Fleet