the last mile

Welcome to the second episode of Raising Your Antenna, your source for in-depth insight from leaders in emerging technology. We are excited to have Andrew Savage of LimeBike with us in the studio, fresh off of their investment by Alphabet and partnership with Uber. LimeBike is at the forefront of addressing the “last mile” issue: 60 percent of trips people take in vehicles are under one mile and 40 percent of these trips are under 2 miles, yet our cities have been built around making those trips by personal automobile. We know those trips aren’t efficient, aren’t good for the environment and create tons of congestion. Tune in for Andrew’s view on the “last mile” and more in the mobility space.

The relationship between mobility technology companies and public transit agencies:

“We have a very large program in Dallas, we’ve been working with DART, the Dallas Area Rapid Transit, in the Bay Area we’ve been working with BART and Caltrain, we think there’s an incredible synergy between the work that we’re doing, which is the sort of microtransit, and the work of mass transit. And bringing those two things together, we really think we can solve the urban problem of the first and last mile.”

What’s driving the popularity of electric scooters:

“Electric scooters are really interesting, we have a charging program where in many markets, up to 80% of our scooters are being charged in a crowd-sourced way from people within the community, so we will pay people to pick up the scooters at the end of the night, we’ll have an app for that side of the business, and we’ll pay them to be what we call “juicers”, and they go home, plug in 1, 2, 5 or 10 scooters and then redeploy them with our guidance and guidelines the next day, so we, for a major part of our operation, will be able to use folks within the community and actually that’s additional resources in the community’s pockets as well.”

Safety and rideshares:

“Safety is a top priority for us.  We have a lot of information on our product in our app and website on how to operate scooters and bikes safely, wearing helmets, choosing the right place to ride. I think an important conversation that we have with city leaders is, how can we give you data so that we can show you where protected lanes would be most beneficial, and how can we show you where people are turning left and turning right in the community where you actually could add infrastructure improvements to make riding and scooting safer.”

Andrew’s journey to Lime as an entrepreneur in the cleantech space:

“I did do a stint on Capitol Hill where I was working on energy and cleantech issues as well as in communications, two years during the Bush administration and two years during the Obama administration, so very fascinating times. I spent the beginning time of my career working both in politics and in government and then shifted over to the cleantech space working as a Chief Strategy Officer for a solar company and I came into this current position a little bit by chance. I was actually looking for positions in solar and stumbled across Toby and Brad, who prior to starting Lime were thinking about what kind of team do we need to put together to make this a success.  We jumped in together, I moved out to the Bay Area from Vermont, and here we are.”

LimeBike and Uber’s strategic partnership:

“The Uber partnership is particularly exciting because what it will allow us to do is access and be available to far more people, more ubiquitously in cities across the US and increase internationally. As we expand internationally across Europe and other parts of the world, it’s more exciting because people can now go on the uber app and decide whether they should take a car or a scooter, what we’ve found is that if you’re downtown in the city and you open up Google Maps and look at the drive time of a mile and a half trip, you’re actually going to find that being on a bike or scooter is much faster than a car. So we are really excited for this partnership because we think people will realize how valuable it is, how much lower cost it is and how efficient it is and the environment implications as well.”

Andrew’s vision for smart regulatory action within the transportation industry:

“We view the idea of saying “you can put X number of scooters or bikes in the community as sort of an absolute number”, as really a backwards approach. You never see that regarding cars. So let’s cap the number of cars in a community before we cap the number of bikes. We are nowhere near the need, or nowhere near the saturation of what we would need in the community to solve the problems, so either no cap or a dynamic cap, and what that means is if we have bikes and scooters being widely used, being used multiple times a day by people in the community, let’s not cap it until it gets to the point where there are enough.”

“We actually do like minimum numbers of fleet size, because without a minimum number you really can’t operate an effective and efficient system.  You won’t have the operations staff on the ground to be able to run a good program, so we do think a minimum makes more sense than a type of cap. One other thing we work with cities on is performance standards around operations and our response time, those are all things we can do, we actually work proactively with a number of 311 system within cities, so that we could tap right into their systems and be as responsive as possible, so it’s not that hard to think about what are responsible regulations, and we think cities are going to get there.”

The role of transportation in increasing economic equality:

“The equity component of what we are doing is a critical part of our mission and is one we’ve been able to really demonstrate work, so a perfect example is we’ve been in Seattle for a year, we’ve had a million rides in Seattle last year, we’ve replaced a dock-based program up there, and that dock based program was available like most programs only to downtown, the financial district, the wealthy neighborhoods or tourism locations. That’s not where most people live, that’s not where low income people live.”

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