The Big Apple is officially going electric.
The New York City Council passed a series of bills on Thursday legalizing electric scooters and bikes and instructing the Department of Transportation to develop a shared e-scooter pilot program. The move is a significant win for transportation activists who have long been working to reduce the amount of cars and congestion on New York City streets and legalize the vehicles delivery workers use to make a living.
“The best transit networks are supplemented by redundancies like publicly shared electric scooters and bikes,” said Bronx City Councilman Fernando Cabrera in a recent Crain’s New York op-ed. “If automobiles are the only available option, it will have a devastating impact on respiratory health across the city.”
As we reported last month after the UK passed similar micromobility legislation, data show that people turn to electric scooters in large numbers as a safe and efficient alternative to local public transit networks during times of disruption. In Paris alone, Bird ridership increased by nearly 300% during last December’s metro strikes.
The year-long pilot in New York City can start as soon as scooters become legal later this year, however it is obligated to launch no later than March. According to the bill, the program must be of scope and scale suitable for evaluating the efficacy of shared electric scooter systems.
The Council’s decision to green-light a shared scooter pilot program is another strong indication that urban transportation is rapidly evolving in response to a coronavirus pandemic that has underscored the importance of sustainable, socially distant mobility options. As Bird CEO Travis VanderZanden wrote earlier this week, “we’re seeing clear indications of what the next normal in urban mobility can and likely will look like: cleaner air, safer, more multi-purposed streets, continued social distancing and increased reliance on micromobility vehicles.”
Click here to learn more about the most compelling e-scooter trends happening in the US and around the world.