Safety – for our riders and for all who live in the communities we serve – has always been fundamental to Spin’s mission. It has been embedded in our Partnership Promise from the start and remains core to all that we do. Delivering on this promise is a big part of how Spin has become the number one choice for cities and university campuses across North America.
As the shared micromobility industry has evolved, so has our approach to safety. For example, we have deployed new technology designed to reduce sidewalk riding and encourage proper parking, reducing clutter in the right-of-way, which are often the main issues communities and cities have expressed about micromobility.
Still, we know that while new technology can help improve rider behavior and safety for all, it is vital we also take a people-first approach. That’s why as we continue to invest in the safety technology for our scooters, we engage community members and students face-to-face, directly educate our riders both in-person and through in-app programs, and support improved safe streets infrastructure.
Engaging the whole community
We seek to engage riders (or potential riders) alongside folks who may be skeptical about micromobility, or not be able to use our services due to physical limitations to inform our overall service design.
We regularly engage with the public through neighborhood associations and community groups, like the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) in Washington, D.C. These groups play a vital role in giving residents the chance to have their voices heard on how new policies and programs impact their daily lives.
For complex topics like transportation, ANCs are an excellent forum to have an ongoing conversation about how micromobility can close transportation gaps, and how we as operators can continually improve our service to address concerns that impact all road users , such as improper parking.
These conversations sometimes lead to deeper relationships, like the one we have cultivated with Commissioner Monique Diop, who represents the ANC in Ward 8D. She accompanied Spin CEO Ben Bear on a neighborhood tour when he visited D.C. in July 2021, pointing out community centers and other locations where she would like to see scooters deployed to serve her constituents, which helped us understand how to deploy our scooters in a way that was directly responsive to the transportation needs of the community.
In general, these relationships help us understand the unique needs of the communities we serve and how micromobility programs can best serve the residents of these neighborhoods.
Another example of our work with non-riders is our collaboration with the disability community in San Francisco.
During the City’s initial pilot adaptive vehicle program, we established relationships with eleven disability rights and advocacy organizations, including The Arc San Francisco, Independent Living Resource Center, and Lighthouse for the Blind.
We sought to understand how members of this community would use shared micromobility devices, and what vehicle features and rental models would best serve them. This was especially pertinent during the height of the pandemic, when many people with disabilities were unable to utilize public transit and needed other ways of getting around.
Additionally, we worked with these organizations to better understand the pain points of our traditionally-deployed fleet: what behaviors were our riders exhibiting that made it more difficult for disabled residents to get from Point A to Point B? And how can we better educate riders on how to properly ride and park their vehicles? Based on their feedback, we added labels reminding riders to not ride on the sidewalk, as well as labels printed in Braille and large text to enable people with low vision to contact Spin to report a scooter that was obstructing a sidewalk.
Educating riders directly
Spin serves more than 100 communities in the U.S. and Canada and we partner with hundreds of local community organizations to educate riders on how to ride safely – and respectfully.
Each city has different safety needs that often intersect with other goals, such as equity and accessibility. Take our experience in Chicago, for example. During the four-month 2020 pilot program, the City prioritized helmet distribution and equitable distribution of scooters throughout the city. Despite the pandemic, we hosted a total of 18 events with local organizations, 11 of which were in-person. Ten of the 15 groups that we partnered with were located in Equity Priority Areas. We gave away more than 700 free helmets. Our commitment to helping the city meet their safety and equity goals is one of the reasons why Spin received a two-year license to operate under the city’s permanent program, due to kick-off this May.
The City of Chicago also wanted to make sure that riders knew how to use the vehicle’s lock-to devices. These devices were required to ensure that our scooters did not block sidewalks for pedestrians, particularly those with disabilities. We designed and implemented an in-app quiz, required for all new users, that tested their knowledge of lock-to devices and how to use them.
Partnering with safety experts
In addition to our grassroots outreach, Spin also works closely with leading road safety organizations, influencers and trainers on safety initiatives.
In the U.S., Spin has partnered with the Vision Zero Network, The Brown Bike Girl, and eppur si muove to provide tailored safety messages to riders, educational materials, in-house training, videos, and events focused on improving rider safety on campuses and in cities.
Through our partnership with The Brown Bike Girl, Courtney Williams, the chief strategist and founder, created a series of videos and training materials designed to speak to the unique challenges faced by Black and Brown people, including how to advocate for safe places to ride.
We are also currently working with eppur si muove to develop a Campus Safety Toolkit, designed to help campuses expand safety awareness through highly-trained student safety ambassadors.
Ambassadors are students hired to lead development of peer-to-peer safety messaging, in-person events, and generally to be the eyes and ears on the ground for the program on their campus. Over the course of a given school year, student ambassadors will have – and document – thousands of conversations with fellow students about how to use micromobility safely and responsibly.
And in Canada, we have partnered with the Canada Safety Council (CSC), a nonprofit non-governmental agency leading the national effort to reduce preventable deaths, injuries and economic loss, to create standardized safety material for the country.
Investing in safer streets
The reality is, however, the root problem around street safety is road design. The prioritization of cars over all other modes of transportation has led to dangerous and uncomfortable conditions for all other road users, whether you are walking, biking, riding scooters, using mobility assistance devices, or pushing strollers.
Spin works closely with cities and local advocacy organizations to help them implement safer infrastructure, like bike lanes, wider sidewalks, and better intersections. For example, last year, Salt Lake City installed a permanent safe intersection design based on work we did with them in 2020 to create the “The Spin Space.”
Our Mobility Data for Safer Streets initiative, which aims to put tools into the hands of cities and advocates to help them make the case for safe streets improvements, started in 2019 and we’re excited to share updates from the most recent iteration of this program soon.
We have also provided our own infrastructure, like Spin hubs, which help reduce sidewalk clutter and keep the right-of-way clear for other users by providing a clear, designated physical place for riders to park their scooters at the end of their rides.
On campuses, Spin Hubs have doubled as safety messaging billboards where riders are presented with reminders on safe and courteous riding habits every time they start a ride or park their scooter.
A Community-First Approach
Road safety has no single solution. That’s why we are committed to a holistic approach that recognizes the need for street redesign, person-to-person communication, partnerships with safety leaders, and technology.
Spin’s mission is to create accessible, 15-minute cities throughout the world, but we know that in order to make that happen, we need to work to make our streets safer for all.