AUSTIN (KXAN) — More than 2 million trips and counting. That’s how many rides people have taken on electric scooters since the two-wheel devices launched in Austin.
As of Monday, with just a few clicks, anyone can access that data that shows that information, as well as the average distance and time and the most popular spots where people start and end their rides.
The new map shows one of the most popular spots where people get on a scooter is in downtown along Guadalupe, between 6th and 12th Streets.
Thousands of people ended their trips near Red River and 6th Street.
“This data helps us understand not only time of day, but travel patterns, travel demand,” said John Clary with the Austin Transportation Department.
The city already collects ridership information from each company that has permits to operate scooters in Austin, so the new dataset curates those details and put them into one spreadsheet.
Clary hopes the data will be useful to policy makers.
“It helps us understand where the needs are for better infrastructure. How we can make smarter investments in the infrastructure that we already have,” he said.
“It’s certainly interesting,” said City Council member Jimmy Flannigan, but he wants to know more. “One of the data sets that’s still missing that may not be possible to get is where people live that are riding the scooters. Obviously, most of the scooters are downtown in District 9, but I’m a frequent of the scooters myself, I obviously live in DIstrict 6.”
Public Safety Commission member Ed Scruggs also said, while the data is interesting and demonstrates the demand, it’s not quite enough.
“What we really need, we need crash data,” he said. “We need injury data. We need data from APD. Have they written tickets? What kind of violations are they seeing?”
Flannigan and Scruggs both want to see the Centers for Disease Control’s study on scooter crashes first before city officials discuss further the impacts of having scooter in our city.
“That will tell us a lot. We’re supposed to have results this spring,” Scruggs said.
Flannigan hopes the CDC study, as well as the current data, will help them answer some of his questions.
“I keep asking if there are physical requirements,” he said. “Do the handle bars have to be a certain size? The tires have to be a certain size. The braking technology. The size of the footplate. What are the regulations? There aren’t any now about how the physical shape of the devices themselves.”
Flannigan and Scruggs both said this is all a work in progress.
“It shows that this is viable means of transportation,” Scruggs said. “This data does show us how big that demand is. It gives us a good picture of the breath of this issue. It’s not some little thing you can just take care of with a few rules. It’s going to be something that takes continued monitoring.”
“We’re doing this one right. We’re going through the data. We’re being methodical,” Flannigan said.
Right now, seven companies have permits to operate scooters in Austin. They didn’t answer questions Monday about if the ridership data affects where they place scooters each morning.
Uber, which operates Jump scooters, sent a statement:
We are in regular communications with City officials to help ensure safety and compliance. It’s clear to us safety has been top of mind for Austin’s City Council when it comes to regulating new modes of transit like scooters. To emphasize Uber’s commitment to safety from the very beginning, we distributed the City’s guidelines and give away helmets when Jump e-scooters launched last October. We also remind everyone in app to ride with a helmet and if they don’t have one, can request a free helmet on our website.
In November, a different dockless mobility company Lime surveyed riders across Austin to learn more about their riding habits. Lime found almost 30 percent of customers in Austin hadn’t ridden a personal or shared bike in the last year.
More than 60 percent of riders ranked a bike path or protected bike lane as their preferred place to ride.