UMN Expert: Dockless scooters and bikes in a sharing economy
On July 11, the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul were introduced to a ride-sharing, dockless electric scooter program on their streets. Other metro areas such as Milwaukee, San Francisco, Boston and Paris have similarly encountered private companies offering dockless bikes and scooters with varying levels of benefit and controversy.
Frank Douma with the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota is available for comment on dockless bicycles and electric scooters offered by the private sector in a sharing economy.
“Dockless bicycles and electric scooters are part of the ‘sharing economy’ manifesting itself in transportation. The private sector provides the opportunity for people to pay for a single trip through their smartphone, rather than buy a piece of equipment. We first saw this type of change with Uber and Lyft and, to a lesser extent, car sharing.
“Underlying this change is a shift away from government providing transportation infrastructure directly to citizens. Instead, private companies identify and serve specific market opportunities made possible through access to this market, which government controls through access to public assets, like their right of way—particularly streets and sidewalks.
“The important question is how should the government provide this access so that these assets continue to serve the best interest of all citizens, and not just the customers of these new companies?’
Frank Douma is the director of the State and Local Policy Program and coordinator of the Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree program at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. He is also a research scholar at the University of Minnesota's Center for Transportation Studies. Douma manages research projects related to several different areas of transportation policy, including impacts of developments in information and communications technologies (ICT), planning alternative transportation options in both large and small communities, and understanding the impacts of freight transportation.
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