(TNS) — Count Mayor Mike Duggan as a big fan of the new electric scooters showing up on Detroit's streets in ever greater numbers.
Speaking early Monday at CityLab Detroit, the urban affairs conference at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center, Duggan said the scooters introduced this year have proven so popular that the city will encourage the operators to introduce even more.
And Duggan wants those scooters to appear more and more in the city's neighborhoods so residents can use them for shopping, commuting to work and other reasons.
"It's become enormously popular," Duggan told an audience at a CityLab breakfast chat. "People love them."
Duggan's remarks on scooters were just part of a wide-ranging conversation on how cities are harnessing new mobility and digital options to create a city that works better.
Among other things he said Detroit is exploring: How to connect the city's streetlights to smartphone applications to capture data on, say, traffic usage or traffic jams. Duggan said many companies nationally are working on such apps and the city is speaking with them.
And Duggan said the city is exploring how to put municipal parking meters on church parking lots that might remain vacant most days to provide more parking options for neighborhood commercial corridors.
And with such novelties, Duggan said, the city will capture the data on usage patterns to make the city run that much more efficiently.
"These are the kinds of conversations we're having," he said.
Duggan dismissed some of the complaints heard about the city's new scooters operated by the Bird and Lime companies. Duggan said he hears more complaints about the city's new protected bicycle lanes than about the scooters.
Asked about reports of more broken bones from scooter accidents, Duggan retorted, "That's such BS!" He said there have been few if any injuries confirmed. And while the city is still experimenting with how to deploy the new scooters, he said the scooters have quickly become part of the city's mobility options.
And that's important, he said, in a city with relatively few taxicabs and no light rail commuter system.
The idea of capturing data from things like scooters and streetlights is central to the mission of CityLab Detroit. Cities everywhere are waking up to the amount of data they can collect to help their cities run more efficiently.
Speaking with Duggan at the morning chat on scooters, Janette Sadik-Khan, New York City's former transportation guru, said New York put GPS devices on thousands of Yellow cabs to produce data, which showed that closing the famed Times Square to vehicle traffic actually reduced vehicle passage times.
At the morning assembly, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose Bloomberg Philanthropy was a sponsor of the CityLab Detroit event that runs through Tuesday, told the several hundred attendees that "cities like Detorit are engines of global progress."
"Cities are now driving the agenda in this country ... leading in the way Washington will not," Bloomberg said.
©2018 the Detroit Free Press. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.