In Austin, and elsewhere, 2018 was the year of the scooter. Love them or hate them, they're all over the city's streets (and sidewalks) and they're here to stay – at least for now.
Now, a snapshot from the city gives more insight into where users rode scooters in 2018.
The map below features data shared with the Austin Transportation Department from April 5 to Dec. 31, 2018, as part of the city's agreement with dockless scooter providers, and counts every single ride on the basis of where it started.
For the most part, it's pretty much what you'd expect: The overwhelming share of rides took place in Central Austin's District 9, which includes downtown Austin and the UT Austin campus.
More than 1.7 million of nearly 2.3 million rides started in District 9, just over 76 percent. Riders had the lowest distance traveled, with a median distance of 800 feet traveled and a median time of a little over 6 minutes per ride across all rides.
District 3 in East Austin came in second, with nearly 153,000 rides in that timespan. Riders went farther on their trips, however, with trips going 70 percent farther than those in District 9 and lasting around 8 minutes.
District 6 had the fewest rides among all districts, with just 336 rides over all rides originating in the Northwest Austin district.
The scooters descended in droves last spring without the go-ahead from the Austin Transportation Department. Bird initially rolled out its fleet, followed by Lime and other providers shortly after. The city then fast-tracked a pilot program to keep them operating in Austin, which was approved by City Council in April. But the road ahead is unclear.
The City Council is still considering tweaks before a final vote on the rules, which is expected this year. On top of that, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is conducting a first-of-its-kind study on the impact of the scooters in Austin.
The scooters have inspired both ire and adulation. Some say the hastily parked scooters obstruct sidewalks and that the ease of ridership poses potential safety risks. Proponents argue they give tourists and commuters alike a cheap, efficient way of getting over what transit advocates call the last-mile problem, reducing the number of cars on the road.