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Washington, D.C., Bloomington, Ind., Work With Lime on Mobility

The two cities submitted the winning applications for the 2024 Mobility Insights Competition, organized by Lime and the League of American Bicyclists. The municipalities can now use Lime’s data to address mobility issues.

A Lime bicycle, available for rent, is parked along Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C.
A major U.S. bike-share operator has chosen two U.S. cities with which to share its data while partnering with them to expand equity, and the reaches of micromobility in the larger transportation ecosystem.

Washington, D.C., and Bloomington, Ind., will partner with Lime to address mobility challenges. The two cities are the winners of the 2024 Mobility Insights Competition, organized by Lime and the League of American Bicyclists. The contest received about a dozen applicants, the company said.

“Lime was looking for applications that showed a level of thoughtfulness and ambition to use Lime data, and the combined expertise of Lime’s Policy team and the League of American Bicyclists’ experts,” Shari Shapiro, Lime’s head of global policy, said via email.

Both Washington, D.C., and Bloomington stood out for recognizing the ways “shared micromobility data can speak to broader issues in the transportation system, including safety, equity, and accessibility,” she added. Winners were announced May 29.

The Mobility Insights Competition was designed to select two communities to better understand their biking issues, including equity and safety. Bloomington and Washington, D.C., now have access to Lime’s extensive collection of data detailing trips, survey responses, and safety and other metrics.

Lime already shares some data with cities in the form of “mobility data specifications” (MDS) and the General Bikeshare Feed Specification (GBFS), which is essentially a shared language for communicating data around bike-share dock locations, pricing, rental terms, and type of bike, Shapiro said.

“The aim of the Mobility Insights Competition is to take that a step further and help cities answer pressing questions, ranging from safety to equity to infrastructure investment, by working in partnership with the city and the League of American Bicyclists,” Shapiro said when the competition was announced. “For example, we could help cities evaluate a recent bike lane installation, or put together a grant application via the Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) Grant Program.”

Lime will now work with the winning cities to determine the most relevant data to analyze, “but it could range from trip data to safety incidents to survey responses,” Shapiro said. The winning cities were judged on how well their proposals addressed a broader city plan or transportation challenge.

“For example, D.C.’s application addressed ways that the competition could help with larger-scale city plans like Vision Zero and moveDC,” said Shapiro, calling attention to the long-range transportation plan for the District.

Data collected and provided by micromobility networks is the kind of data cities can use to better develop not only biking infrastructure, but the policy needed to regulate and encourage more active forms of transportation, industry watchers said.

“Bloomington’s application charted a plan to use shared micromobility data to help with the city’s first Safe Streets for All Action Plan, as part of updates to the transportation plan,“ Shapiro said. “In both cases, the winning cities committed to using the competition to inform improved infrastructure, particularly along the city’s identified high-injury network.“

It’s the melding of tech, policy and infrastructure that creates modern, relevant transportation features like mobility hubs, or streets reimagined for more than just cars, Gene Oh, Tranzito CEO, said recently. The company is a smart city technology firm focused on transportation innovation.

“It starts with understanding that this really is about combining physical and digital policy, and infrastructure and a movement can make change,” Oh said last month, speaking on a panel at the Curbivore conference in Los Angeles. “And I think with the new technology coming, we can’t change infrastructure overnight. But we can change the digital means, we can change the policy means to make physical structures turn into new developments.”

The partnership among Lime, League of American Bicyclists and the cities could lead to more refined Vision Zero goals, Shapiro pointed out.

“We want the governments to focus on the infrastructure — the hard, heavy lifting — and then use that as leverage to help private industry fill in the mobility gaps,” Oh said at Curbivore. “You start with the infrastructure, and you build on top of that.”
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 Yreka, Calif.