Spin, a leading eScooter operator, approached Gehl Studio and D-Ford (Ford Motor's innovation lab), to explore how to best serve marginalized communities. The team interviewed hundreds of experts, users, and stakeholders before advancing to a rigorous multidisciplinary prototyping and validation process.
I'm not healthy enough to ride a scooter, but my grandchildren love riding them. It gives them the kind of independence kids used to have in the city.
When I am on a metered scooter, I get nervous about the money I might be losing at every red light. It has none of the security of the Muni.
In the early morning, the bus only comes every hour or so. I have to wake up early to make it, then arrive 30 minutes early to work. With a scooter, there is no waiting.
People ask me ‘how sad that the fun of car ownership is over’. I tell them, ‘os to fun waiting in a snarl of traffic? Is it fun missing your flight at JFK?. If you sleep 8 hours a day, you’ve got 16 hours left. If you are like most people, an hour, two hours of your day are consumed by driving. What does it mean to give people back an hour of leisure or an hour of work?
There will be more formats of vehicles. From our perspective, design and business strategy is not for fantasizing about the future. We are looking for relevance, how industry will look at where ride-share reaches a wider range of use cases.
The car can only be the enemy of the city because it is a tool of dispersion, and cities are all about concentration. Single user AV's can only be bad for cities.
Jannet has three teenage daughters in middle and high school. She lives in a townhouse style apartment but travels to a second homes at a lakeside vacation community most weekends with her husband and children (and often, their friends).
Ryan’s social circle includes his immediate neighbors, work friends of his parents (and their children), and other students at his high school. In the summers and on weekends (and other school breaks), Ryan works at a local hardware store owned by a friend of his fathers. He considers himself typical, watching the same sports and same television as most of the people he knows.
Tonya commutes more than 45 minutes to an office park, where she manages paperwork full time at a medical laboratory. It mostly does blood reports for nearby clinics and hospitals. She passes several towns on her way to work each morning and night, but has rarely had occasion to stop at any.
My children are much more independent than I was because they live in the city. They could travel alone at a much younger age and had more of an ability to form themselves.
Growing up in St. Louis, my parents had to drive me everywhere and sometimes they said no. There were certain people I would have become friends with if it were up to me, and I would have had more diversity in my childhood.
I could not imagine living outside of a city. Getting around takes a lot of time, and it is expensive compared to in India; you have to know how to drive.
Getting around gets harder as you age. I have family outside of the city that could seriously use self driving cars. I think it will be a long time until we can trust them.
I don’t know if self-driving cars will ever be ready. Phones crash every day; we can afford to have cars do that. I wouldn’t want my child to ride one.
Non-users of scooters appreciate the benefits that micromobilty can generate, even if they do not directly benefit.
Poor price transparency is a barrier that creates tension for low income users. Operators might consider moving to different pricing models like fixed fare or monthly billing.
Service industry workers often have jobs less tolerant of lateness, which can be harshly punished. To serve this community, micromobility must operate extreme reliability.
Use specific modalities of vehicles will create business opportunities as well as opportunities for human connection.
Some will use Serendipity in their everyday lives. Others, like Jannette, only use personal vehicles for leisure activities with children. Future features might focus on helping child passengers discover social encounters.
A user's social environment is impacted both by their age and the community they belong to. In Ryan's case, Serendipity might attempt to strengthen the ties he has with distant family and family friends.
Extended commutes tend to erode community life and the time people are able to spend socializing. Serendipity might recommend short excursions that reunite Sonya with old friends or create professional networking opportunities.
Urban parents, who do not have to provide transportation to their adolescent children, are able to let them claim personal autonomy more naturally than suburbanites.
Parents use their children's dependance on them for transportation to mediate their friendships and social interactions, sometimes in ways that prevent an integrated society.
Internationally, mobility ecosystems feature more diverse modes of transit, which many find both convenient and empowering.
While the value proposition of new mobility options was clear to many, confusion about the state of the art lead to anxiety about their safety.
Urban dwellers view cars as a nostalgic extravagance and are therefor more skeptical and averse to changes in the transportation system.
Like many eScooter operators, Spin offers reduced fares to low-income riders as part of an equity outreach initiative. While these programs are well intentioned, Spin wanted their offering to set a new standard for transit accessibility, so they approched Gehl Studio to help them go the extra mile and design accessibility into every aspect of their operations.
Lassor was hired by Gehl Studio for a months long design research and prototyping sprint. Gehl led a team of talented practitioners from IDEO and D-Ford (Ford Motor's internal innovation lab). The team interviewed experts in urban transit working in business operations, academia, and government. In addition, they interviewed and observed hundreds of Spin users & other stakeholders before entering a synthesis, prototyping, and validation phase.
Gehl presented its findings in several interactive client workshops, which included designers, engineers, executives, and operations team members. Prototypes included innovations in pricing, deployment, marketing, hardware, UI/UX, and more. The goal was to provide Spin with a roadmap that would suggest how accessibility could be the foundation of future product development and business decisions.
Throughout the process, we were inspired by the principle of 'Universal Design', or the idea that by accomidating the disadvantaged, designers can create products that are more desirable for everyone. Spin is now in the process of developing several of the proposed product features in their future product offerings.
Addressing Transit Barriers with Technology & Design