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‘Is the Dockless Bike-Share Trend the Next Big Thing in NYC?’ Cartoon

a monochromatic cartoon of three people surrounded by dockless bikes in New York City
New York City is catching up with the bike-share trend. What are the impact and the challenges of having this dockless bike-share system in the Big Apple?

The Big Apple Catching up with the Dockless Bike Share Trend

Start spreading the news. A dockless bike share system has just landed in the Big Apple, giving locals and tourists alike more transportation options. A pilot testing program began this July 2018, in The Rockaways, and it will run for four months. Three more locations will follow: Staten Island, the Bronx and, later this year, the Coney Island. It is taking the program for a spin. New York City Department of Transportation officials are closely monitoring the pilot, and if all goes well, the city will integrate the dockless bike share system into the Metropolitan Transit Authority.

Dockless Bike Share NYC, Tackling City Transportation Challenges

The city that never sleeps is catching up with the bike share trend. In one of the densest metropolitan areas in the world, this program can help tackle the city’s transportation challenges. With the installation of this new system, the city aims to provide affordable transportation for short-distance trips. It will also connect commuters to public transit networks. Currently, four bike share companies – Pace, Lime, Jump and Motivate – will take part in this pilot testing.

a monochromatic cartoon of three people surrounded by dockless bikes in New York City
New York City is catching up with the bike-share trend. What are the impact and the challenges of having this dockless bike-share system in the Big Apple?

Historically, the city is no stranger to the bike sharing concept. Locals and tourists have been accessing bike sharing using the automated docking stations for short rides and solving the “last mile” problem. However, the city’s only existing bike share system, Citi Bike, is mainly concentrated in the borough of Manhattan, with Citi Bike’s expansion hindered by the cost of the docking system.

The success of this pilot dockless bike share program will allow other areas of the city to have access to a bike share system. It can ultimately help reduce road congestion and air and noise pollution.  This will significantly transform the New York’s transportation landscape.

The World is Going Dockless

Cities all over the world are adopting the dockless bike share system. With the increasing demand, private companies and government agencies are developing programs. They aim to cope up with the needs of the commuting public.

Dockless Bike Share Trend
Dockless Bike Share Trend
  • Call A Bike, a dockless bike rental system managed by Deutsche Bahn, operates Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Kassel, Cologne, Munich and Stuttgart.
  • Mobike, a bike-sharing system headquartered in Beijing, China, has been expanding its reach globally. The company has a presence in Great Britain, Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Italy, Germany and France.
  • In New Zealand, their first dockless bike share system – called OnzO – was launched in November, 2017.
  • Singapore-based dockless bike share company oBike has expanded to 24 countries, including Korea, Malaysia, Australia, Thailand, Taiwan, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, France, and Sweden.
  • Beijing-based bike sharing company ofo has been growing a global presence. Its countries include France, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. In February 2018, the company rolled out a bike share platform with Texas A&M University in the United States.
  • The US has jumped on the bike-share bandwagon via startup companies such as Lime. Lime was founded in January 2017, in North Carolina,  fielding 125 bicycles. To date, Lime is available in 46 cities across the country and has expanded outside the United States.
  • Motivate, another US-based bike sharing company is now operating in key cities across the country. In July 2018, the company was acquired by Lyft, but will continue to operate as a stand-alone business. The NYC Department of Transportation has commissioned Motivate to take part in its dockless bike share pilot testing.

The growth and popularity of dockless bike share systems have even opened the door to similar programs involving motorized scooters. BIRD services multiple cities throughout the US, and despite a few legal hurdles, BIRD has begun to make its presence felt in the Big Apple.

The Challenges of the Dockless Bike Share System

The dockless bike share system is a breath of fresh air for highly-urbanized cities like New York. The rollout though has not been flawless. A number of problems have emerged.

Theft and vandalism are at the top of the list. Out of a one-hundred bike fleet set up in the Bronx, only eight were in service recently. To circumvent the system, users have used prepaid cards or taken improperly unlocked units. Some bikes have been with their GPS tampered with, while others had parts missing.

Some bike share companies are finding it difficult to keep up with losses, and are discontinuing service. Ofo pulled out of Washington, DC last July. Mobike is currently evaluating whether it is still sustainable to keep their operations in Manchester. In addition, the system has been criticized because of urban clutter – since the bicycles need not be parked in specific locations, units have been dumped carelessly on sidewalks, pavements and curbs. Some of the bikes end up floating in waterways or hidden in sheds, while some have been parked illegally on private properties.

Impact of City Planning

Regrettably, these problems are symptoms of far more serious issues: human nature and lack of city planning. While the bike-sharing industry is in its early stage in the US, policymakers should begin looking at the development of social rules in the use of common facilities (such as the dockless bicycles). Urban planners and bike share companies should also begin working together to make sure that city landscapes are ready to accommodate this new breed of mobility.

The dockless bike share system is not the problem. This system, if used right, can help ease traffic congestion, fuel consumption, cut pollution and encourage a healthy lifestyle. The arrival of dockless bike share system may have caught some cities unaware,  but is not too late to act swiftly before the system zooms past us.

Uber and Lyft are Stepping Up Multi-Modal Strategies

Intermodal freight transportation has provided businesses with flexibility in their supply chain for decades.  Similar to supply chain complexity, urbanization is making commuting around cities increasingly challenging —roads can be congested, travel times can double, and commuters are constantly looking for additional conveniences. Uber and Lyft are the top disruptors in the field of ride-sharing throughout the United States. Furthering their strategies of creating efficiencies and convenience in commuting, both companies are now branching further out into multi-modal transportation strategies and their applicability to urban environments.

What is Multi-Modal?

Multi-modal transportation, otherwise known as combined transport, is the combination of different means of transport, in order to make the movement of cargo easier, faster and more efficient. Uber and Lyft are both undertaking the notion of creating multi-modal cities as populations shift into urban environments.

Uber and Lyft are in acquisition talks with various companies this year to expand their transportation offerings. This is their multi-modal approach—a strategy that means having a market share in different forms of transportation. Uber and Lyft already offer a handful of ride types in their apps. They offer shared rides, low-cost rides for large groups, luxury vehicles, and wheelchair-accessible vehicles, among others. However, traditional bikes, electric bikes, electronic scooters, and buses are fair game for both companies.

Bikeshare or Scooter Around

Another aim of ride-hailing apps is to make cities greener, smarter, and even more accessible to people. In Seattle, this August, Uber, Lyft, and LimeBike have sought to operate bike-sharing in the city by 2019. Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) recently passed bike regulations that allow only four companies to operate, with 5,000 units each. Ten bike-sharing companies expressed their interest in joining, but only three applied for permits. SDOT granted Uber’s JUMP the ability to operate in the city, as well as two other companies. It seeks to provide consumers an alternative to car ownership and commuting.

To use a bike, a user needs to download the app and locate one within the vicinity through the app. JUMP will send a PIN to unlock the bike, while a person using LimeBike can scan the QR code through the app. Once done using the bike, the user can leave it at any designated public area and lock it.

With Sequioa Capital, Uber and Google making large investments in scooter technology, Bird, Lime, and Spin. These scooters are aimed at tackling the travel of people for short distances across cities. Bird, the quickest company to ever become a unicorn, is announcing expansion plans outside of the U.S.

multi-modal transportation strategy gif of uber and lyft cars and limebike and cabify buildings
Uber and Lyft, racing for a global multi-modal expansion.

Special Shuttling

Uber and Lyft reportedly pursued a bus startup called Skedaddle. Skedaddle offers one particular service: easy public transport for large groups of people by bus. It is one form of ride-sharing, but for people who are going to the same destination — like a music festival for instance. It lets individuals crowdsource private-public bus rides. As soon as there is demand for the same ride from different people, the bus is considered booked.

Skedaddle is a company based in Boston and New York and has maintained operations in the East Coast. It recently expanded after the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. on March 2017. The company said it transported more than 11,000 individuals to the march, attracting a lot of media attention since then.

However, no conclusions or further plans have been announced after the reported discussions with Skedaddle.

Discontinued Discussions

In July this year, it was reported that Lyft was in talks to acquire Spanish transportation company, Cabify. This was a lucrative option for Lyft, which would expand its operations beyond the US Canada as Cabify serves Latin America, Spain, and Portugal. Lyft also established an office in Munich, Germany, but operations in Europe have yet to begin. However, Cabify categorically denied the reports about the supposed acquisition. It says it is in excellent financial health and will continue to establish itself in the markets in which it operates.

Uber likewise tried making a deal with the bike-sharing company, Motivate. It is the firm behind San Francisco’s GoBikes. The deal fell through for undisclosed reasons. However, as soon as Uber passed on the deal, Lyft acquired Motivate for $250 million, making it America’s largest bikeshare company. Motivate operates as New York’s Citi Bike, Chicago’s Divvy, Washington D.C.s Capital Bikeshare, and Boston’s Bluebikes. Between these four cities, the company generated 74% of the nation’s docked or dockless rides which were taken in 2017.

Head-to-Head Race

Uber and Lyft are in the race for global multi-modal expansion. They are going after the same opportunities in the hope of providing more options for the public and creating sustainability for communities everywhere. People all over the US and the rest of the world are highly interested in the expansion developments of these ride-sharing companies. Any new offering ultimately signals the advancement of transportation and mobility, the strengthening of economies, and enhancement of people-centered societies.

Is Zume Robot Pizza the Next Quick Serve Restaurant Breakthrough?

We often think of robots as a thing of the future. Sci-Fi films have always portrayed space travel and robots within the narrative, whether as active or implied characters. Only a few may have imagined though that these characters would become part of our reality this soon. Robots that began assembling cars have evolved into robots vacuuming our carpets and filling delivery orders for Amazon. So why not have robots been preparing our meals and delivering them to us on-demand? For some companies, like Zume Robot Pizza and Softbank, that future is now.

Introducing Zume Robot Pizza

In 2016, Zume Pizza set out to do something extraordinary. Not only did the business seek to use robots to prepare pizza for delivery, but it also went a step further. The Zume pizza robot not only makes, bakes and delivers pizza to customers. It does it all while on route! Using its patented delivery trucks equipped with automated ovens, Zume pizza robots create an artisan pizza for you that arrives just-in-time, piping hot and fresh. A customer simply calls in the pizza order, and networking technology instructs both preparation and delivery with incredible precision. Everything is nicely prepared and packaged within a Zume Robot Pizza Truck.

Though the Zume Robot Pizza attracts attention on its own, the company is making waves on a much larger scale. Recently, the Japanese capital investment giant Softbank announced it was considering investing $750 million in Zume Pizza robots.

Softbank, known for its technology and autonomous transportation interests, only sees Zume Robot Pizza as the tip of an iceberg. As mobility-as-a-service expands, it only makes sense that major changes could occur in the restaurant sector. Both Zume Pizza and Softbank envision these changes in the very near future.

chart of pizza making process of zume pizza robot
More than just sumptuous pizza, Zume Robot Pizza has the potential to top supply chain efficiency.

Looking at the Potential for Zume Pizza Robot

The benefit of the Zume Robot Pizza is the just-in-time arrival of pizza that’s made-to-order pizza. But the potential for the Zume Robot Pizza concept is so much more than this. Consider some of the following potentials the company foresees in the immediate future.

  • Meal Mobility-as-a-Service – Consumers want mobility services. From streaming movies on a smartphone to navigating directions by GPS while traveling abroad, mobility-as-a-service is an evolving need. Even the success of Uber Eats shows how consumers enjoy mobility services as it relates to food. Imagine if you could have your meal anytime, anywhere! Zume Robot Pizza essentially offers just that. Likewise, Zume Pizza plans to expand its mobility meal services to an array of food items ranging from coffee to frozen yogurt.
  • Supply Chain Efficiency – Zume Pizza began as a technology concept to improve supply chains efficiency in the pizza industry. The company wanted to bring fresh, hot pizza to customers in the most efficient way. But in the process, Zume Robot Pizza provides more than efficiency. It reduces food storage, returns trips back and forth to a kitchen, and other components of the typical delivery chain. Moreover, with the use of autonomous vehicles, the process will become even better. These efficiencies naturally reduce costs, but they also consider quality using fresher foods and fewer preservatives.
  • B2B Opportunities – Perhaps Softbank is considering mega-investments in the Zume Robot Pizza because of the company’s larger Zume started with pizza robots, but the company plans to license its patented oven trucks to restaurants for use. In essence, any restaurant could use these trucks to receive orders, prepare meals, and deliver to customers on-the-fly. Zume Pizza has also partnered with appliance manufacturer Welbilt to further develop its decentralized, mobile meal inventory and preparation model. Zume Robot Pizza is just the beginning.
  • Customized Experiences – Notably, customers increasingly want mobilized services. However, at the same time, they also wish to personalized experiences. While a stock-menu pizza on-demand is alright, customizing your pizza exactly the way you want it is incredible. This is where Zume Robot Pizza excels. Its proprietary control systems not only coordinate preparation and delivery but allow customized orders. Of course, this not only applies to Zume Robot Pizza. As Zume expands into a B2B market, any restaurant has this same capability as part of its mobility offerings. Bring in today’s “experience” economy, Zume Robot Pizza expands dining experiences to an entirely new level.

A Glimpse into the Future

By moving much of the cooking to a mobility platform, Zume Robot Pizza creates a decentralized model of meal services. With autonomous vehicles and just-in-time technology, this has tremendous potential for the future. For example, friends could meet anywhere and each enjoys their own type of entrée. Gatherings, business meetings, and many other events could cater to individualized needs providing just-in-time meals. With such a concept, so many new dining experiences could be created for customers. No wonder Softbank is seriously considering major investments in Zume Robot Pizza and its role in future meal mobility services.