DOT Launches Phase II of Popular East Bronx Scooter Share Pilot

Phase II is under way in the Bronx (see map). Photo: Noah Martz
Phase II is under way in the Bronx (see map). Photo: Noah Martz

Ready or not — the DOT has launched the second phase of its Bronx scooter pilot … and it’s not ready.

The agency, which has been piloting electric scooter share in the northeast Bronx since August, unleashed the micro-two wheelers on the rest of the East Bronx on Wednesday, only to face the shortcomings of its own infrastructure and its failure to enlist the help of its sister agency, the Parks Department. Several crucial protected bike lanes in the Phase II zone (see map) remain unfinished, plus riders will not be able to use their scooters to get to the ferry terminal inside Ferry Point Park because the Parks Department doesn’t allow scooters in its green empire (which also explains why scooter fans can’t use the devices to get to Orchard Beach, which is inside the pilot boundary yet off limits).

Map: DOT (with annotation by Streetsblog)
Map: DOT (with annotation by Streetsblog)

“[The ferry dock] is on park land, and we don’t technically have jurisdiction,” said DOT official Keith Kalb at Wednesday’s Phase II launch at the Clason Point ferry terminal. Kalb said DOT is in talks with the Parks Department to improve the situation. “We’re working together to make that happen. It’s not it’s not like we can just come in and asphalt the roadway into the park.”

And Rosedale, Lafayette and Soundview avenues are all supposed to get protected bike lanes, though Kalb could not say when the infrastructure will be completed.

“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s going to take through the summer.” In a statement, the DOT said only, “DOT plans to install 10 miles of conventional lanes and is planning to build more cycling infrastructure in the expansion area in 2022 and 2023, including: Eastchester Road, Bronxdale Avenue, a new protected bike lane network in Throggs Neck, as well as extending lanes along White Plains Road. DOT will begin outreach soon at relevant community boards.”

DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez would not let any shortcomings ruin the launch, however, and highlighted the good news: The number of scooters being operated by the micro-mobility companies Veo, Bird and Lime will double from 3,000 to 6,000 over the coming weeks, and the area in which they can be rented would also basically double to now comprise the area basically south of E. Tremont Avenue from the Bronx River to the Long Island Sound.

“We’re thrilled to build on our successful e-scooter pilot in the Bronx and offer this safe and efficient travel option to even more residents,” he said. “This expansion will serve important first- and last-mile trips for commuters accessing the NYC Ferry and 6 train in the eastern section of the Bronx. Bird, Lime, and Veo [are] helping the city deliver a safe, reliable, and accessible service for Bronxites.”

He also said there had been half a million trips during the first phase of the scooter-share pilot and there had been no fatalities and very few injuries. He credited the safety protocols that the agency required of the three operators, including limiting the scooter’s speed for first-time users, and also providing safety courses and helmet giveaways.

In the “Beginner Mode,” a rider’s first three trips are capped at 10 mph and they can’t take out a scooter after dark.

And the other good news: Despite the problems with connectivity at Ferry Point Park, scooter users will easily be able to reach the NYC Ferry’s Soundview line’s Clason Point Park stop because Soundview Avenue terminates very close to the dock.

That’s cold comfort to Roy Smith, a City Island resident who hoped for full accessibility to the Ferry Point dock.

“Like so many different projects, what’s going on here is sort of an interdepartmental infighting between DOT and Parks,” he said. “Meanwhile, the people that could use the service are kind of left out in the cold.”