FutureStructure

Lime and Spin to Share Detailed Use Data with LADOT

Scooter- and bike-share operators Lime and Spin form an agreement with transportation technology company Remix to share loads of real-time data with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.

by / November 9, 2018
A Lime electric scooter rider passes a cyclist on the Venice Beach Boardwalk in Venice on July 25, 2018. Scooter and bike share operators Lime and Spin form an agreement with transportation technology company Remix to share reams of real-time data with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. (Gabriel S. Scarlett / Los Angeles Times/TNS) TNS

Transportation officials in Los Angeles will soon have access to lots of additional real-time usage data generated by hundreds of e-scooters and bikes racing up and down city streets.

An agreement among app-based bike and scooter rental operators Lime and Spin, along with software technology firm Remix, will make use data available to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT). Remix is a private-sector partner with LADOT, aiding in the city's transportation and transit planning.

The move to more openly share data related to where the scooters and bikes are ridden, routes taken, when they are used and other details reflects a growing trend where cities are requiring data sharing from private-sector mobility providers like e-scooter operators, bike-shares and others, as a condition to operate. This trend is, in part, a reflection of the evolution of the mobility industry as it branches off into bikes and other mobility modes which have moved beyond a niche audience to widespread use among urban dwellers. 

“All of the scooters and the dockless vehicles kind of represent this next wave of mobility that cities are now prepared for, and they know what they want to ask for,” said Tiffany Chu, Remix co-founder, referring to the data being sought by cities and transit agencies. “I think before, they didn’t even know what to ask for. And now, because of all new awesome electric vehicles at our doorstep, it kind of represents the second chance for cities to be at the center of transportation, and access that data that helps them plan out the entire transportation ecosystem.”

Decision-making around where to place infrastructure like bike lanes, bike racks, parking pads for electric scooters and recharging equipment is best when it’s driven by data, say both public- and private-sector transportation officials.

The idea is that better data leads to better planning, and ultimately, better infrastructure to serve all of these multiple mobility forms, said Chu.

“Right now it’s so hard for cities to basically make the case for better bike lanes, and better active transportation infrastructure because a lot of times, what it requires is taking away a parking spot or two,” she added. “And now, if we’re able to point to real usage, real metrics, real data that says, 'hey, so many people are riding along this corridor, and you know, (using) five different electric vehicle modes,' I think that really tells us something, we have to prioritize it, or else it becomes unsafe.”

The use data is generally available via application programming interface (API) and companies like Remix will often make data available to cities the company partners with. Los Angeles is the first city where Remix’s data sharing agreement with Lime and Spin will be executed as a two-way API for cities to communicate with mobility providers operating on city streets. Los Angeles transportation officials will have access to real-time location data related to the bikes and scooters as well as trip route and device status information. 

“At LADOT, our job is to move people and goods as quickly and safely as possible, but we can only do that if we have a complete picture of what's on our streets and where,” said Seleta Reynolds, general manager of LADOT, in a statement. “That's what this partnership is all about.”

Cities like San Francisco, St. Louis, Mo., and Columbus, Ohio, also require some form of data sharing from scooter and bike operators.

Skip Descant Staff Writer

Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Sacramento.