Data-based storytellingBy L. Dennis Burns, CAPP

According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), shared micro-mobility devices like bikes and scooters provided more than 84 million trips across the U.S. in 2018. While these numbers are impressive and contribute to reductions in urban area congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, I have been worried that the e-scooter industry in particular may be facing an uncertain future as it struggles with escalating accident rates and negative headlines.

I recently read an article entitled: “Micro-Mobility Contest Wants to Spark Data-Based Storytelling.” In this article, e-scooter operator Spin is leading a project in partnership with data firms StreetLight Data and Populus to make troves of micro-mobility data available to nonprofits advocating for safer streets.

According to the article, “Advocates working for improved bike, pedestrian, or other micro-mobility projects in cities across the U.S. could soon have access to new datasets, as they make their case to officials. Spin, an operator of e-scooters, is leading a pilot known as the Mobility Data for Safer Streets (MDSS) which asks nonprofits and other micro-mobility advocacy groups to apply for one of up to five slots to participate in the program. The five winning organizations will have access to a year’s worth of mobility data collected by StreetLight Data and Populus, two leading data collection and analysis firms often used by cities, transportation agencies, and others looking to use traffic and other data to shape transportation policy.”

I am encouraged by this move to better use available data in advocacy for safer streets as cities and states work to shape the public policy to both regulate the devices and reshape the public streetscape to accommodate them. It will be interesting to see what comes from this initiative.

L. Dennis Burns, CAPP, is regional vice president, senior practice builder, with Kimley-Horn.