In deploying e-bikes and e-scooters, some challenges can be addressed. The city is working with employers such as Henry Ford Health System, the Detroit Medical Center, Meijer and Whole Foods to figure out where employees can store vehicles while they're working, and where they can be charged.
Some challenges are more vexing. Curb, sidewalk and road infrastructure can be problematic. Michigan's winters likely render micromobility vehicles a seasonal mode of transportation. And they may not be suitable for nighttime travel.
"We were very real with ourselves that these vehicles have limits," Ourahou said. "But for those who operate within these limits and satisfy these criteria, we wanted to give them those options."
Participants need to live within 6 miles of their place of employment to qualify. They receive route- mapping apps, helmets and locks for the bikes. Once a month during the 16-week pilot, the city intends to send a survey asking about their satisfaction with the service. That will help Detroit decide whether micromobility has a role in its longer-term transportation future, pandemic or not.
"We're learning a lot," Matlen said. "And I think this can definitely help us move forward and really understand how the different technologies can work to really serve at the end of the day. We just want to make sure residents can get to where they need to go in a safe, reliable way."