Zagster: New Pace Parking in Chicago
Pace, the dockless bikes solution of the Cambridge, MA based Zagster, recently announced the launch of a "Mobility Parking Platform", in order to ensure parking availability for dockless vehicles. Today, 25 Pace Parking platforms are coming to Chicago's Far South Side.
As Streetsblog Chicago reported today, Pace Parking - or Mobility Parking Platform is being installed in a private property within Chicago’s Far South Side. Although Streetsblog is openly poking fun at the fanciful term, the name seems largely aligned with Zagster's vision for the future of mobility. Pace, one of the last players to enter the dockless race, has pledged to work cooperatively with the cities before, during, and after deployment of their bikes. Part of the "cooperative" plan is the universal Pace Parking - interestingly, the platform deployed by Zagster welcomes bikes and scooters of other operators, which perhaps explains the brand/vehicle type agnostic name chosen for Pace's parking solution.
Although critics argue that dedicated parking beats the purpose of operating a dockless solution, cities seem to be buying into the lock-to theory that governs the mentality of a number of bike and scooter operators. Chicago, most recently, introduced a lock-to requirement for dockless bicycles, allowing Pace to increase the number of their Chicago bikes to 250, while limiting Ofo and Limebike (which sport no lock-to mechanism) to their already deployed 50 bikes each. In line with this new trend inside the dockless space, the San Francisco-based Skip Scooters announced that they will be deploying a lock-to mechanism for their scooters. New York City recently announced their bikeshare pilot, which grants licenses to five bike operators (a mix of lock-to and lock-in bikes), potentially in an attempt to gauge the popularity/practicality-for-the-city ratio of each solution.
Furthermore, Pace seems to believe that their Mobility Parking Platforms can become a sight capable of driving traffic and sales. As Tim Ericson, CEO of Zagster recently wrote, the "Pace Place" programme, which puts Pace Parking in front of urban storefronts has been a hit with businesses in Chicago. He cited John Brand, owner of Open Outcry Brewing Company in Chicago who confirmed that since installing Pace Parking outside his business, people have been coming and going constantly.
The question that needs to be answered is: Will Pace Parking (and the lock-to trend) solve the problem of abandoned bicycles blocking traffic, or will it just create a new kind of docked mobility?
Photo Courtesy of @nitrofog creamery, Albuquerque