By Nathan Donnell

We live and die by supply and demand in the parking and mobility industry. We are challenged by the public, stakeholders, and business owners to have enough parkingĀ  while keeping the price at a reasonable level so as to not deter people from using the curb space. Obviously, I just defined supply and demand! I apologize for the elementary schooling but I have a method to my madness.

I spent a few days in three of the top 15 cities in the United States recently and because I’m a mobility geek, I couldn’t help but focus on the overall curb management in each city. The one thing all three cities had in common was that the supply and demand theory of micro-mobility vendors was way off. In one city, there were seven e-scooter vendors, each fighting for space on the curb. There wasn’t a street I walked down where I couldn’t find an e-scooter to ride. In fact, there was on an average of 20 scooters on each side of the street throughout each city, waiting for potential riders.

Cities and campuses have more control over micro-mobility vendors [vs. ride sharing as an example] by licensing each e-scooter and charging fees per ride; they also have access to data that should help make better policy decisions. Unfortunately, the supply outweighed the demand in all three cities to the point of cluttering the walkways and making it difficult to navigate without tripping hazards.

Why not charge each vendor a fee per scooter for the time it’s taking up curb space instead of a flat fee or per-ride fee? This may cause scooter vendors to be more selective in the number of scooters they drop off in hopes of getting more customers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for first- and last-mile mobility solutions. But we must find the sweet spot of supply and demand or all we’ve done is create another problem in our cities and on our campuses.

Nathan Donnell is director, western U.S. and Canada sales, curbside management solutions with Conduent.