Providing Transportation Options in All of Chicago's Communities

Average Scooter distribution by Equity region

From page 35 of CDOT’s report on the 2020 e-scooter pilot

When the City of Chicago announced their 2020 micromobility program, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) made it clear that ensuring equitable access to e-scooters would be a top priority.

In 2019, the pilot covered roughly 50 square miles of the city, but in 2020, all 212 square miles of Chicago (except the Loop and lakefront trails) were the operating area. CDOT specifically required operators to deploy half of their total scooters in designated Equity Priority Areas and rebalance them to those areas throughout the day to ensure continued access.

Of the three operators, Spin was the only one to comply fully with this requirement for the full 123 days of the pilot program, according to CDOT’s comprehensive report on the 2020 pilot

According to CDOT’s report, riders in these areas were 1.6 times more likely to report that they used e-scooters to get to and from work, underscoring the fact that micromobility can provide vital transportation options that connect people living in communities historically underserved by transit options to economic opportunities in their cities.

The report also notes that about 30 percent of riders said their e-scooter ride replaced a car trip and more than 36 percent said they were connecting to public transit.

While we are proud that we were the only company to consistently deliver on our requirement to deploy in the City’s Equity Priority Areas, we also recognize that ensuring equitable access requires more than simply placing scooters in certain neighborhoods.

Spin advertised “Spin Access,” its discount program for low-income riders, at community events throughout the course of the pilot.

Over the course of the pilot program, Spin hosted 18 events — digital and, when safe, in-person — including tutorials on how to safely ride and helmet giveaways.

“The events were really tailored to the communities’ needs,” said Daniel Bezinovich, Community Partnerships Associate with Spin.

Working Bikes and the Young Men’s Educational Network (YMEN), in the North Lawndale community, invited us to participate in their Can & Ride event in Lawndale. The event celebrated the launch of their “Cycle Can,” a shipping container bike shop, followed by an evening bike ride. Spin was proud to sponsor the event. We were there to give safety demonstrations and provide helmets to the community.

Spin advertised on buses and in transit stations to encourage safe riding and raise awareness about our Spin Access program.

Over the course of the pilot, we gave away more than 700 helmets at community events. And our collaboration with Working Bikes and YMEN continues into 2021, with a $20,000 investment to make additional improvements to the YMEN Cycle Can, provide bike and scooter racks at six community gardens and activated shipping containers throughout North Lawndale, and to work with a local artist and residents to design a wayfinding map to show the physical and programmatic connections of the spaces.

We joined Equiticity for their October community ride, where we also gave out free helmets and safety information. And we partnered with organizations like Westside Justice Center, Quad Communities Development Corporation, Center for Changing Lives, and a handful of others for digital safety and Spin Access outreach.

We also partnered with Northwest Side Housing Center to offer a cash payment option to those who are unbanked or prefer to pay for Spin rides with cash — a partnership we hope to expand in the future.

Still, CDOT’s report shows that there is work to be done to help increase ridership in historically underserved areas. While we made sure that scooters were available throughout the city, ridership in those neighborhoods was less than in more affluent parts of the city.

During the pilot, Spin partnered with Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) Institute of Design (ID )to try to better understand how the communities we want to serve might be better reached.

The goal of the collaboration was for Spin and Institute of Design (ID) students, taking part in Professor Mark Jones’ Service Design Workshop, to leverage the micromobility pilot underway in Chicago to understand how residents living in historically under-resourced communities used — or didn’t use — the micromobility services deployed in their neighborhoods. The students employed human centered design methods to propose ideas that would enable Spin to better center equity in planning transportation services and to better serve priority areas in the city.

This collaboration dovetailed with Spin’s broader look at how to improve our equity offerings overall to make them more accessible and responsive to the actual needs of the people they are meant to serve.

We recently undertook a thorough case study of our Spin Access program. Gehl led the project, supported by the design team at D-Ford and the transit advocates at TransForm. Through TransForm, the project was leveraged by critical contributors including Dr. Destiny Thomas and Keta Price, who served as our Community Advisors. Toole Design provided best-practices and conducted an “equity audit.”

You can read more about our findings here.

We look forward to taking what we have learned from the 2020 Chicago pilot, our collaborations with community groups, and our equity case study and applying those lessons to improve equity in access and our service overall. And hopefully better serve Chicago’s many, and diverse, communities even better next time.

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