DETROIT -- The city of Detroit, in partnership with mobility-focused data firm Passport Inc. and California scooter company Lime, is launching a pilot program to study electric scooter use patterns.
The six-month pilot is designed to help the city determine where the scooters would be most useful to residents and visitors.
The use-pattern data is expected to help the city create a dynamic pricing model to incentivize distribution of scooters throughout the city, Passport said in a news release.
Detroit city officials will work and share information with officials from Charlotte, N.C., and Omaha, Neb., in potentially developing a nationwide regulatory framework for dealing with scooter distribution.
"Working with Passport, we can now gather insight on how our citizens are using these new forms of mobility and be more strategic about managing scooters using supply/demand economics," Mark de la Vergne, chief of mobility innovation for the city, said in a March 19 statement. "With this pilot program, we are now connected to a network of cities facing the same challenges and we can effectively work together to develop a new regulatory model that can be scaled nationally."
The dockless e-scooters arrived in Detroit last summer. Their entry into Detroit and other Michigan cities has spurred hot debate. Proponents laud the scooters as a mobility solution that's been a long time coming, while critics bemoan the dangers of having motorized vehicles zigzagging through pedestrian-heavy areas.
The city created rules about the deployment of the scooters -- which are rented through a mobile phone app -- that capped the number of scooters in Detroit at 400 per company, or 1,200 total, with 100 scooters per company distributed outside of downtown and Midtown.
The scooters are dockless, meaning they can be parked wherever a ride is ended. However, the city requires they be parked upright on a sidewalk at least 6 feet from streets, driveways and other permanent objects. But curb management remains an issue as scooters can clog busy sidewalk real estate and otherwise be a nuisance.
By analyzing the use patterns, the city could create a fee scheme for where the scooters are dropped that would incentivize companies to more strategically locate their scooters. That could make it more economically viable in places where mobility remains an issue, such as Detroit's neighborhoods.
Passport also developed the Park Detroit mobile app for the city as well as the mobile payment app for the QLine.