Simplest Solutions Work Best to Improve Micromobility Parking, New Study Finds
Research shows most effective ways to improve micromobility parking are low-tech solutions like sidewalk decals and infrastructure.
A new study from Cornell University Professor Nick Klein, University of Oregon Professor Anne Brown, and Lime Director of Policy Research Calvin Thigpen found that low-tech interventions lead to improved micromobility parking, showing that cities have low-hanging fruit to use to address parking, rather than turning to expensive and speculative hi-tech solutions.
The new research follows previous studies that showed that misparked shared e-scooters were far less common than misparked cars and that the cause of misparking was most often unclear, confusing rules. The results show that cities and micromobility operators can continue their collaborative progress on parking with readily available solutions focusing on educating riders and providing easy, intuitive parking opportunities.
The study produced four main takeaways:
- The vast majority of riders and the public instinctively understand that scooters should not impede sidewalks
- People think that tidiness equals proper parking
- Scooter riders want to do the right thing - education and reminders work.
- Provide plentiful, intuitive parking and scooter riders will use it
“Working with cities to make e-scooter parking easy and effective is one of our top priorities at Lime. Micromobility is here to stay and it can continue to thrive while ensuring pedestrian pathways are kept clear and people feel streets remain tidy and organized, which is why we invest a lot of time and energy into figuring out what works. The good news is that this study shows that effective solutions build on things we’re already doing, are easily scalable, and don’t need to rely on speculative tech promises. We’ll continue to work with cities to educate riders and encourage building dense, reliable parking infrastructure that allows micromobility to flourish and make parking easy,” said Calvin Thigpen, Director of Policy Research at Lime.
The new study is built upon two complementary research initiatives. In the first, the researchers conducted field experiments in Washington, DC, and Auckland, New Zealand. They observed scooter parking before and after implementing three interventions to mitigate noncompliant parking: in-app message reminders, sidewalk decals, and lock-to requirements (in DC only). Each of the new, low-tech solutions led to improved rates of compliance.
Second, the study asked the general public (not riders) to judge whether different images of parked scooters were parked properly or not and whether they saw the parked scooters as cluttered or tidy. Given their unfamiliarity with scooter parking regulations, respondents used two shortcuts to judge what counted as proper scooter parking: pedestrian accessibility - whether a scooter blocked the sidewalk - and tidiness.
Together, the two parts of the study show that riders and pedestrians alike want clear sidewalks and tidy streets, and the best way to get there is by providing riders with intuitive and easy to use parking solutions. Bike racks and parking corrals are clear winners in dense urban environments, as they make it clear where riders should park and ensure tidier parking.
Ultimately, the study reinforces Lime’s work to improve parking across the hundreds of cities it serves worldwide.
As the largest shared micromobility operator globally, Lime has experienced a variety of different approaches to parking. Using its unparalleled trove of aggregated and analyzed data Lime is able to develop parking plans that best optimize for parking compliance and utilization. Cities who have built a parking corral network with high density, such as Paris with over 2,500 parking corrals, see improved parking compliance and scooter uptake.
Lime also shares data with the cities it serves, allowing city partners to make informed decisions about which infrastructure improvements might work best and where, from bike racks to protected bike lanes. In many cities, Lime partners directly with local governments to create infrastructure improvements directly. For example, in Denver the city is using scooter program fees paid by Lime to build dozens of parking corrals throughout the downtown area. Other cities have similarly reinvested program fees into the system’s success, including San Francisco and San Diego.
Lime runs regular regional and city-specific campaigns to educate its riders on proper parking techniques, each time building on what works best to improve the next initiative. Starting in November 2022, Lime asked riders London to “Park Like Your Gran Is Watching”, as part of an integrated marketing campaign aiming to keep riders on their “best behavior” by showing them what responsible parking looks like and reminding them to do it at all times.
Ultimately, while this study and others show e-scooters are parked properly the vast majority of the time, Lime will continue collaborating with cities to educate riders about parking rules and develop dedicated parking infrastructure.