Parking Compliance — Unleashing the Potential of Shared Micromobility

Fact: Right-of-way Management is Mandatory

The notion that the public right-of-way should be kept clear and accessible is not just wishful thinking. The obligation to regulate streets and sidewalks is mandated for all cities at the local level, with parking enforcement and public works usually responsible for issuing citations and correcting violations. In the absence of any local regulations, parking on pedestrian infrastructure is regulated federally by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) — the longstanding foundation that requires a pedestrian right-of-way remain unencumbered in US cities. Since its passage in 1990, some version of the ADA (which celebrates its anniversary this week) has been adopted by 181 countries, making it one of America’s most successful exports.

Fact: Dockless Micromobility is More Popular than Dock-Based

Without wading into the nuances of the topic, data and reporting demonstrate that dockless electric micromobility has been adopted more quickly than its station-based counterparts, both in terms of ridership and geographic expansion. However polarizing they may be, e-scooters and e-bikes are popular, with the convenience of going ‘door-to-door’ efficiently.

Fact: GPS Technology has Shortcomings

GPS technology has been, and continues to evolve into an incredible technology that enables tracking and management of deployed assets across myriad industries and applications. However, in micromobility operations, the typical GPS chipsets used simply do not have the level of accuracy required to implement very finite geofencing which is inherently needed for things like precise parking management. To make things worse, GPS technology struggles even more mightily where it matters most — dense urban areas with tall buildings where high pedestrian activity is typical. Tall buildings clustered in downtown settings wreak havoc on GPS signals, and result in location inaccuracies of 30–100 feet, and sometimes more.

Fact: Dockless Parking Rules Exist — in Most Cases

To accommodate these new modes of transportation, cities have crafted regulations and designated specific areas where these light electric vehicles are to be parked when not in use. , Typically the dos and don’ts look something like this:

  • DO NOT block the right-of-way
  • Examples: middle of sidewalk, in the street, blocking curb ramps, in front of business entries, in a bus stop, etc…
  • DO park in the ‘furniture & landscape zone’ of the sidewalk (typically within ~2ft of the edge of the curb)
  • DO park near existing biking infrastructure (bike racks)
  • In some cities, DO use the lock-to cable to secure the scooter to a bike rack
  • If available, DO park in designated marked ‘scooter corrals’

How it’s Going…

Operators and regulators have attempted to manage the confusion through rider education and user behavior management. As I alluded to in a previous piece, humans don’t always know the rules or follow them even if they do. The sad truth is that behavior management is staggeringly ineffective when done either preemptively (before riders engage in unwanted user behavior) or reactively (in response to the same unwanted behavior). So, educational flyers, in-app messages and user quizzes that cities and operators provide to control or mitigate the bad behavior yield very poor results, and the user experience suffers. Operators are also required to engage the rider’s cooperation at the completion of their rides by asking them to take and submit a photo of a ‘properly parked’ scooter taken with their phone. As a former operator, our team at grüv by CLEVR Mobility realized a paltry percentage of riders actually submit an actionable photo of a parked scooter. We received more selfies, pictures of feet, the sky and photos of less savory things than we did “properly parked” vehicles.

  1. A good citizen rider attempts to park their scooter in the corral, but GPS does not recognize that they are in fact in the corral and the monetary reward is not distributed — leaving the customer disappointed and unlikely to try to comply again.
  2. A rider ends their ride 40 feet away across the street from a marked scooter corral, perhaps unaware of said corral. GPS mistakenly ‘locates’ the scooter in the corral and triggers the monetary reward — resulting in wasted operator dollars, and an undesired outcome.

How it Could be Going…

There is a better way — and Drover has the solution. Through the use of a camera, sensor fusion and machine learning, Drover’s PathPilot technology enables real-time parking validation for its partners. In addition, when the PathPilot registers a vehicle speed below 2 MPH, its AI algorithm transitions from riding functionality (sidewalk detection, etc) to parking functionality.

  • No longer needing to burden riders with the responsibility of taking and submitting photos at the completion of rides. PathPilot’s camera ensures a smoother end of ride experience while also guaranteeing a relevant photo that will inform any necessary actions.
  • Using PathPilot’s inferencing of parking, operators can nudge riders into better parking outcomes by surfacing real-time in-app alerts that increases the likelihood of good parking behavior — even where rules are not clear to the rider.
  • Dedicated parking corrals will become more effective because the PathPilot visually recognizes that a ride is being ended within a corral — eliminating the type of GPS related mistakes referenced above.
  • More accurate and granular information associated with dockless parking which helps paint a clearer picture for operators and cities. Enabling operators to be proactive about undesirable parking outcomes will reduce or avoid costly fines and cities will not be burdened with as much reactive enforcement.
  • Disability and community advocates will finally have their right-of-way concerns addressed and be more likely to embrace these forms of sustainable transportation without reservation.

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Alex Nesic

Alex Nesic

Micromobility veteran, enthusiast and evangelist. Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer of Drover AI. #bancars