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2020: A Year of Resilience
August 4, 2021
It’s hard to overstate just how unpredictable and challenging this year has been. None of us could have predicted or planned for what 2020 had in store. Still, the strength of our partnerships — with cities, community organizations, universities, and our parent company, Ford Motor Company — and the commitment of our team has brought us through a bumpy year.
If 2019 was the year of innovation through partnership, this year has been about resilience in the face of tremendous challenges and our role in helping our city partners meet those challenges on the road to recovery in 2021. Here are some of the accomplishments we are proud of that lay the foundation for a better 2021.
Ensuring the Safety of Our Employees and Our Riders: New COVID-19 Protocols
March seemed like the longest month this year. When cities began shutting down across the country, at Spin, it was all-hands-on-deck.
We worked with our employees on the ground in cities around the country to develop rigorous policies to make sure that the warehouses where scooters are stored and maintained were safe, adopting social-distancing requirements and supplying workers with PPE. We benefited greatly from our relationship with our parent company, Ford. In its nearly 120 years of existence, Ford has had to deal with significant global disruptions before and the company’s experience really helped us. Initially, as we worked to secure PPE for our employees, there were real shortages, but Ford was able to provide us with quality protective gear, as well as ongoing support and guidance.
We also made sure to adopt procedures to ensure scooters were sanitized thoroughly and more frequently.
It became very clear early on that e-scooters were a socially-distanced way to get around and we are proud of how quickly everyone on the Spin team moved to get the best information possible and put in place the safest procedures to keep transportation available and a healthy option.
Powering Essential Workers: Free Rides for Everyday Heroes
In April, we launched our “Everyday Heroes” program to help support healthcare workers. As cities shut down, many were forced to make hard cuts to public transportation services. Still, these essential workers had to get to work.
The program was designed to give healthcare workers — including doctors, nurses, medical assistants, hospital and clinic administrators, janitors, and anyone else who works in a healthcare facility — unlimited free 30-minute rides.
By the summer, people had traveled more than 25,000 miles using the program. And, we found that 83 percent of people that responded to our Everyday Heroes survey said they were using Spin for their commute to work; followed by grocery store trips (31 percent), and going to restaurants to pick up food and accessing healthcare (both at 24 percent). As we expanded globally, we also launched this popular program in the UK.
“It was a very fast way to get to work and run errands without having to worry about where I’d park. Also, it was great to not have to worry about who I was riding with in a rideshare.”
— Philip, San Francisco, CA
Based on comments from our riders using the program, it helped make their lives a little easier during an incredibly difficult time. For that, we are glad.
Spin Launches in Europe: First Stop, Germany and the United Kingdom
This year was also the year that Spin went international. We launched our first European city — Cologne — this summer. And since then, we’ve expanded to eight additional German cities. In August, we launched our first city in the U.K., Milton Keynes — a city known for its leadership in technological adoption and high-quality bike-and-ped path network. Shortly after, we were approved to operate the entire Essex County shared e-scooter program, which includes six cities. Recently, we launched Basildon, the first of those six cities. Next year, we will be launching Braintree, Brentwood, Clacton, Chelmsford, and Colchester.
We are excited for next year and we’re looking forward to expanding into even more cities around the world.
Promoting Local Businesses: Supporting the Communities We Serve
Shutdowns across the country put a lot of pressure on local businesses. We wanted to help support small businesses in the cities Spin serves, so we launched our initiative to highlight local establishments — restaurants, breweries, cafes, art shops, book and record stores, and small clothing shops, among other types of businesses. And, on social media, we gave away gift cards each week — $1,000 worth in each city — to help folks support those businesses.
In our blog and on our social media channels, we put the spotlight on eight different cities. In April, we started with Detroit, where Spin has been operating since November 2018. Detroit holds a special place for Spin, since our parent company, Ford, has called it home since 1903. Next, we highlighted Baltimore, followed by Los Angeles.
We rounded out the series with a look at Salt Lake City, Denver, and Orlando. We are proud to support local businesses because we know they are an essential part of what makes these communities special.
Partnerships with Cities to Meet Shared Goals: Advancing Equity
Transit agencies have been particularly hit this year. Drop-offs in ridership and other revenue sources have led to hard choices about service reduction. But people still need to be able to get places and in a way that doesn’t put their health at risk.
Above is a look at ridership levels in East Portland before and after the April 6 start of our partnership with PBOT. Note the visible increase in rides. Visualization by Julio May, Urban Planning GIS Specialist at Spin.
This year, we partnered with the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) to figure out how we could work together to supplement transit service. The partnership resulted in PBOT waiving their street use surcharge of $0.25 per scooter trip and per-scooter right-of-way fee, which varied from $0.05, $0.10, or $0.20 per scooter per day. PBOT also allowed us to permanently expand our fleet by 250 scooters. This allowed us to reduce our prices by 50 percent and gave us the flexibility to deploy scooters in areas where transportation options were most needed.
“As this healthcare crisis emerged, we knew Portlanders would need access to transportation for critical trips. We appreciate Spin’s partnership, which lowered the cost for e-scooter use for all Portlanders and provided an outdoor, healthy transportation option, as other options became more limited. We look forward to seeing how e-scooters help meet community needs, as we look to reopening.”
— Dylan Rivera, a PBOT spokesperson.
Not long after, we worked closely with Kansas City and Charlotte on similar partnerships for similar reasons: their transit networks had taken a hit and Spin could help fill some of the gaps. These partnerships illustrate how micromobility has become an essential part of many cities’ transportation networks and how strong partnerships with cities can really help micromobility providers play a meaningful role as we begin the road to recovery.
Doubling Down on Our Commitment to Building Safer Streets: Spin’s Streets Team
As with all things, we had to adjust our plans for our Streets program for 2020. As mentioned above, it is a key component in our commitment to sustainability in no small part because in order to get people out of cars and on to more sustainable modes of transportation, we have to make the streets safe for everyone to use.
Safe streets this year had another component to it, too. Social distancing requirements meant that cities were looking for ways to create more open space for residents to be able to stretch their legs and get around.
Our Streets team also celebrated a first this year! We have our first Spin-sponsored parklet in the UK (which is also our first outside the US), which is providing much-needed outdoor space for patrons of local businesses. This parklet built on the success we had with a sidewalk expansion project in Brixton, which was our first Streets project outside the United States.
Finally, we wrapped our Build A Better Barrier competition, through which we invited people around the world to submit ideas for economical and unique bike lane barriers. We look forward to seeing the winning design in real life next year.
Providing Safe and Accessible Transportation to the Polls: Spin to Vote
Under normal circumstances, getting to your polling place is a major obstacle to voting for a lot of people. This year, the pandemic only exacerbated this problem. Spin partnered with State Voices local chapters, the NAACP and Urban League’s local Cleveland Chapter, and NABSA — not to mention all our partners who helped spread the word — for our Spin to Vote campaign.
Through the campaign, riders were able to access a discount by entering a promo code. And thousands took advantage of the program. When we compared the Tuesday before Election Day (10/27) to Election Day (11/3), we saw a 31.45 percent overall increase in ridership nationwide.
“I didn’t have to worry about parking at the polling place. It was packed.”
— Rider in Akron, Ohio
This past election was arguably one of the most consequential in our lifetimes. We were thrilled to play our part to help get people to the polls and let their voice be heard.
Setting a New Standard for Sustainability: Carbon Negative by 2025
While this year may have been full of challenges, we still needed to plan for the future. We were proud to announce this year our commitment to becoming a carbon negative company by 2025.
It is an ambitious but absolutely necessary goal. And we laid out the roadmap this year about how we will get there: longer lifespans for scooters, more sustainable operations vehicles, 100 percent renewable energy sources for charging, and doubling down on modeshift as a key metric of success for our company.
Just as we take a holistic approach to safe streets at Spin, we must also take a holistic approach to sustainability. We look forward to this challenge and we hope we can set a new standard in micromobility.
Spin Commits £100,000 to UK’s First Independent Micromobility Research Fund: Spin Research Fund
Another first for us this year was the establishment of the first Micromobility Research Fund. We committed £100,000 over the next 12 months to support top researchers from 10 leading universities in the UK and US and a number of mobility experts from organizations working on micromobility questions as they delve into their initial research topic: safety.
“The willingness to share independent research and learnings about the adoption of e-scooters with key stakeholders has become less of a priority for operators and this needs to change. Spin is committed to improving and advancing micromobility policy frameworks globally in the markets we operate in.”
— Josh Johnson, Public Policy Manager at Spin
The first study, in Milton Keynes in the UK, will use on-street censors, anonymized GPS data, and qualitative survey data to answer questions about rider behavior. Where do e-scooter users ride most often (cycle lane, roadway, pavement) and why? How often do safety incidents occur, and what are the common factors? What factors or conditions (i.e. cycling infrastructure, weather, traffic volume, etc.) impact the real or perceived safety of e-scooters for users and for non-users?
“Milton Keynes has been a leader in transport innovation for some time, and we are delighted that the first piece of independent research supported by the Micromobility Research Fund will be taking place here, with leading academics and cutting-edge industry partners.”
— Brian Matthews, Head of Transport Innovation, Milton Keynes Council.
Answering these questions with high quality and independent research can help raise data-driven policymaking to the next level. We are excited to see what comes out of the first study and are looking forward to many more.
Adapting to New Consumer Preferences: Spin Pass
We were really excited to launch Spin Pass this year. For people who ride scooters for errands or regular commutes, it can get costly. Instead of simply paying by the minute, Spin Pass gives riders the option to buy a one-, two-, or 24-hour pass, which they can use to hop on and off scooters for as many rides as they need within the timeframe of the pass they purchased.
In late spring, we saw increases in the number of first-time riders and in the lengths of people’s trips: In April and May, we saw a 34 percent average increase in new daily active users week over week; and the average trip duration increased by 44 percent in May, when compared to the same time last year.
As people’s commute patterns changed under city lockdowns and they sought out open-air and socially-distant travel options like e-scooters, it made sense to offer more flexibility. We’ll continue to watch the trends and see what we might be able to offer next year as cities begin to reopen and people get back to work and to school.
Smart Scooters, Safer Sidewalks: Spin Insight
We have been able to close this year on an exciting note. Earlier in December, we announced Spin Insight. Through an exclusive partnership with Drover AI, we’re creating scooters with sophisticated and networked sensors that will be able to detect sidewalk riding, allow for dynamic top speed control, alert us to scooter tampering, and allow greater accuracy in creating parking zones.
Through Spin Insight, our scooters will be able to gather and process information about their surroundings and location much more accurately in real time, helping with a number of challenges that face the micromobility industry. With better data, we will also be able to work with city officials to better inform infrastructure planning and other improvements that make biking, scooter riding, and walking safer.
The Future of Shared Transportation: Spin Hubs
Over the past year, we’ve seen Spin Hubs continue to tackle the issue of shared e-scooter parking. Keeping sidewalks clear and e-scooters neatly parked is an important part of being a good partner. We have significant interest from university campuses and cities who are interested in how Spin Hubs can help improve shared e-scooter service. Here are just a few Spin Hub highlights this year:
“I am thrilled to see Spin expanding their presence, by adding much needed charging and parking stations in downtown Phoenix. It’s great to have Spin as part of the city’s e-scooter pilot program, which is helping residents and visitors enjoy downtown by improving accessibility and providing alternative modes of transportation.”
— Councilman Michael Nowakowski
Over the summer, we joined forces with Tranzito to transform Caltrain SF Bike Station — which Tranzito has operated since 2013 — into a hub that offers an array of mobility options and in-person services set to improve the Spin rider experience.
Thank you for your interest in partnering with us.
Someone from our team will get back to you shortly!
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