East Bronx gets e-scooter pilot program zone launching this spring

The e-scooter pilot has brought thousands of devices to the east Bronx.
Photo courtesy NYC DOT

An 18 square mile area of eastern Bronx, home to 570,000 residents, will become the testing grounds for an e-scooter program that the Department of Transportation is launching this spring.

In 2018, Councilman Fernando Cabrera introduced legislation to bring e-scooters to the Bronx. Finally, after a three-year wait, those scooters are coming to the borough.

The pilot program will focus on the communities including Eastchester, Co-Op City, Throggs Neck and Soundview. It will allow the DOT to see how e-scooter share programs work on city streets for the first time, and will require that companies participating in the initiative operate in alignment with the City’s Vision Zero and equity goals.

The pilot will run for a minimum of one year.

“I’m proud of the work we did with DOT, advocates, and the City Council to create the shared electric scooter pilot program,” Cabrera said. “The program design reflects the priorities and concerns raised by diverse groups, addressing safety, storage, environmental sustainability, transit equity and justice.  The pilot program location is the right one- where communities are diverse and where, in many instances, public transit isn’t easily accessed from residential areas.  This launch comes at a time when safely distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 can be challenging on public transit.  It will provide safe, easy, affordable travel for everyday trips.”

The pilot is a result of a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) issued by DOT in October 2020. It is estimated to bring as many as 2,000 to 3,000 scooters to the east Bronx during Phase 1 (2021; including neighborhoods of Eastchester, Wakefield, Pelham Parkway and Co-op City) with an increase to as many as 4,000 to 6,000 in a potential second phase (2022; including Throggs Neck, Parkchester and Soundview).

The zone is designed not to overlap with Bronx neighborhoods targeted by Citi Bike as part of the bike share company’s current expansion plan.

DOT will evaluate the e-scooter pilot on how well it provides equitable coverage across the entire pilot zone. It includes neighborhoods where more than 80% of the population are Black and Latino, and have more than 25,000 people living in NYCHA housing.

The DOT will later announce which companies will participate in pilot, along with details about equipment, accessible options, pricing, equity policies and discounts, features and a launch schedule. DOT also plans to soon provide details of new bike lanes planned for the service area during 2021.  Once announced, selected operators and DOT will conduct outreach to the communities within the pilot zone.

Modeled on previous pilots, DOT will establish the e-scooter program with demonstration agreements that require high standards and allow for strong enforcement mechanisms governing service provision and operator behavior. E-scooter operators will also be required to pay fees to fund third-party data management vendor for compliance oversight.

The pilot’s phased roll-out is expected to allow DOT to test a variety of strategies to manage sidewalk clutter, including dedicated parking corrals and software-based management of scooter parking.

As required by local law, DOT will complete an evaluation of the pilot that will examine usage, trip patterns, safety, e-scooter parking behavior, system accessibility and other factors.  DOT will issue a report with agency recommendations to follow.


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