Driving around Nashville’s urban core, you will notice scooters freckled along sidewalks, next to buildings, and even famous landmarks. Bird and Lime are the most notable scooter brands in Nashville, two companies attempting yet another step in addressing traffic congestion and transportation time in multiple US markets. So, we thought we would try it for ourselves.
You never notice how many scooters are near you until you start paying attention. They are everywhere! According to the Nashville Business Journal, 1,000 scooters were permitted on Nashville’s downtown streets but they certainly suffer from “hiding in plain sight” syndrome. At least until you decide to try one. We walked right outside our office at 4th and Commerce and immediately saw four scooters.
These scooters are surprisingly easy to access. Their setup is similar to Uber and Lyft: you download an app, create a profile, and add payment information. You also have to take a picture of your driver license in order for the scooter to activate, at which point it let’s you know you are ready to ride with a whimsical “ding.” The handy app displays details on how to ride the scooter safely, how to accelerate and brake, and even offers some “ rules of the road”.
According to these rules, you must be ridden on the public roadways. Being caught on a sidewalk warrants a ticket of up to $75. Unfortunately, as soon as those wheels land on the blacktop, we become a tiny fish, in a very crowded pond. These scooters left us very exposed. We quickly realized that we would be safer on the sidewalk. We then became acutely aware that most of Nashville’s sidewalks were not designed for scooters. Ultimately, these scooters belong in bike lanes.
These scooters did prove to be a fun and efficient way to travel around Nashville’s urban core. They were much quicker than walking and were great for seeing the city known for its entertainment in a new way. It is no wonder they are so popular with tourists. They were also very easy to operate once we got a feel for the machines.
Overall, we see the appeal and potential for reduced traffic congestion. If bike/scooter lanes gain the ubiquity they need in Nashville’s urban environment, then this new commuter tool is sure to thrive.