Last month, Google Maps rolled out a new partnership with Lime. In 13 cities worldwide, users can now find Lime bikes and scooters on their Google Maps app. Users can see the bikes and scooters by selecting a destination and pulling up directions. If a Lime bike or scooter is available nearby, it will appear alongside other transportation options (currently: car, bike, public transit, and walking). Then, users can tap on the Lime icon to open the Lime app and complete their purchase.
This partnership is part of the larger last-mile transportation trend. All over the world, cities wrestle with the best way to get people to their destination, and the last mile has historically been one of the tougher conundrums to solve, as even the best public transportation systems still require a bit of travel on the front and back end. Bike-shares are a decent solution, and they have been gaining traction in recent years; however, manual bicycles aren’t the best solution for everyone – they can be challenging if the user is wearing certain clothing (think: skirts, nice suits, or high heels) and prohibitive for people with disabilities. Electric scooters (and to some extent electric bikes) are accessible to a much wider range of people, and new dockless ride-sharing systems, like Lime, allow users to pick up and drop off virtually anywhere, addressing the last mile problem better than docked bike shares.
While some cities have fought against dockless scooters and e-bikes (Nashville notably banned Bird scooters in early 2018), the Lime and Google Maps partnership goes to show that dockless scooters and e-bikes are here to stay. The Google Maps partnership will encourage more and more users, whether or not cities are ready for them. Cities should look to make headway in integrating dockless scooters and e-bikes into their existing infrastructure. That might mean designated parking spots, designated lanes, zones of allowed or prohibited use, or mandated safety gear, depending on the particular city and its needs. Nashville and other cities with previously stringent rules against scooters and bike-shares are now rescinding these rules, realizing it’s nearly impossible to fight the growing desire for this type of transportation. If you’re in one of the 13 cities where Google Maps rolled out it’s partnership with Lime, lookout for a substantial increase in ridership!