When dockless scooters and bikes first came to Baltimore, as advocates we embraced them, working with the Baltimore City Department of Transportation and providers of dockless vehicles to develop a pilot program that was a resounding success.
As Bikemore, we chose to embrace these vehicles on city streets because we felt Baltimore needed more transportation options in more places, anecdotally saw a diverse ridership utilizing the vehicles, and because we were hopeful that they could serve to replace car trips under one mile, which are very frequent in Baltimore City. The Pilot Program Evaluation Report showed that many of these things were true. Users self-reported replacing driving and rideshare trips with dockless vehicle trips without negatively affecting their use of transit or biking. Walking increased, as more people were choosing to walk and find a scooter than wait for a rideshare or hop in the car and drive.
Because of the success of the pilot, and wide support amongst all demographics surveyed, Baltimore City Council formally legislated a permanent Dockless Vehicle For Hire Permit Program, developed and administered by Baltimore City Department of Transportation. Bikemore worked closely with city council members and Department of Transportation staff to develop recommendations that were adopted into the rules, regulations, and permit program.
This month ends the first quarter of that permit program, and we’ve seen a steady increase of ridership throughout the summer, peaking with over 75,000 vehicle trips in the third week of September. It’s clear that the demand for more shared mobility options is strong in Baltimore City, and that our city must adapt to this demand by quickly building more protected infrastructure to ride in and dedicated parking areas to store dockless vehicles at popular origins and destinations.
Baltimore City Department of Transportation is planning to release a report on the program through the first quarter in early November. We look forward to analyzing the program more at that time. For now, we’ve updated our shared mobility page with details on the dockless vehicle providers that have received permits, as well as details on the permit regulations. A summary is below:
Up to 4 shared mobility vendors are eligible for a year-long permit under the new permanent regulations, which went into effect on August 1, 2019.
The current permit holders are:
Contact: 1 (844) 505-9155, Support@jump.com
Discount Program: Jump Boost
JUMP Public GBFS: https://gbfs.uber.com/v1/balts/free_bike_status.json
Discount Program: Lime Access
Discount Program: Spin Access
Discount Program: Bolt Forward
Below are some highlights from the rules and regulations. For a copy of the full rules and regulations and more information, please visit the Baltimore City Department of Transportation’s Dockless Vehicles page.
Each permit holder is allowed to deploy up to 1,000 vehicles of a single vehicle type. If a permit holder chooses to deploy multiple vehicle types, they may deploy an additional 1,000 vehicles with a minimum of 150 of each vehicle type. Permit holders may also deploy an unlimited number of accessible vehicles, which are vehicles designed for people living with disability.
Under equity guidance from the adopted rules and regulations, permit holders must distribute a minimum of 5% of their fleet into each of the nine city planning districts, and can deploy no more than 25% of their vehicles in any single district. If more than 35% of vehicles are ridden into a single district, the operator must rebalance those vehicles to the 25% threshold or lower.
Additionally, there are 20 defined one block equity zones in the permit. These equity zones are centered around public transportation hubs, libraries, business corridors, and other areas of likely high ridership that are outside of the central city. A minimum of 4 vehicles must be placed in each equity zone block by 8:00 each morning. These equity zones will eventually receive dedicated parking corrals for vehicle placement, installed by Baltimore City Department of Transportation.
Permit holders are allowed to set their own pricing, but are not allowed to differentiate pricing between any user groups except for a defined low-income access plan. They must also notify Baltimore City Department of Transportation about any changes in pricing.
All permit holders are required to offer cash payment options, pay without a smartphone options, and a low-income access plan to any SNAP/WIC enrolled individuals.
Permit holders are required to share data with Baltimore City Department of Transportation via the Mobility Data Specification, and are also required to provide a publicly accessible General Bikeshare Feed Specification.
Each permit holder is required to pay a $70,000 permitting fee, a $10,000 performance bond, and a $0.10 excise tax per rental.
The annual permitting fee covers the cost of Baltimore City Department of Transportation shared mobility program staff, in addition to innovative public engagement and infrastructure:
A Resident Mobility Advisory Board will be established, similar to the successful Food Policy Advisory Committee. Resident Mobility Advisors will be appointed from communities across the city, and will receive a paid stipend to meet six times a year to discuss mobility challenges in and solutions for their communities. ($6,000)
20 shared mobility corrals will be installed annually based on an evaluation of ridership and equity priorities. These corrals will be installed either on the street or sidewalk, and provide designated parking areas for shared mobility vehicles as well as private bikes or scooters. ($20,000)
Existing mobility lanes will be evaluated and improved through resurfacing and patching to provide safer travel surfaces for shared mobility vehicles. ($100,000)
Baltimore City Department of Transportation will produce community education materials ($19,000) as well as provide five $2,000 community micro-grants for education and outreach ($10,000)
The refundable performance bond covers anticipated city expenses, including the BPD Special Marine Unit for harbor retrievals, Baltimore City Department of Transportation towing services for improperly parked or damaged/abandoned vehicles, and damage to public property. Any funds not expended on these city services will be refunded to the companies at the end of the permit.
The excise tax of $0.10 per ride goes into the general fund. The Pugh administration committed to restricting these revenues to funding bike infrastructure installation in Baltimore City, however it is unclear if this restriction will be honored given we have a new government.