On crowded Cincinnati roads, drivers, cyclists, and scooters are learning to share
Uber’s latest feature, Bike Lane Alerts, aims to decrease the number of injuries and fatalities due to an increase of multimodal transportation.
While Cincinnati is significantly different than Amsterdam, it might be a smart time to learn from a city jammed with multimodal transportation. The Dutch streets boast walkers, riders, streetcars, and buses all seemingly racing to places in a simultaneous and organized fashion. Cincinnati — with two scooter providers, Red Bike, drivers, public transportation, and ordinary cyclists (full disclosure, me) — is learning how we can mutually exist safely.
And remember, no scooters on sidewalks.
Uber, the international rideshare company, food delivery service, and owner of JUMP bike and scooter share has decided that Cincinnati will be included in the launch of their new road safety feature, Bike Lane Alerts.
The feature aims to increase the awareness of people on bikes and scooters via the Uber app by sending notifications to riders when their drop off is on or near a bike lane.
Derek Bauman, a local public transportation advocate, pays close attention to transportation and impact.
“A significant risk, among many, for people on bikes and scooters is the possibility of getting ‘doored’ which occurs when a vehicle occupant opens a door without looking, just as a person on a bike or scooter is riding past and they get taken out by the car door,” says Bauman. “Uber, through the Bike Lane Alert notification, is seeking to prevent these types of crashes by alerting passengers to the likelihood of active transportation users being in the area if the platform detects it’s on a street with bike or shared-use lanes.”
In addition to the on-trip feature, Uber riders and drivers-partners will also receive education on the Dutch Reach to encourage safe practices on being aware of two-wheel travelers before opening their car door. Information is received by Uber riders 480 feet prior to drop off.
“We have been prioritizing safety across the app for the last couple of years,” says Kayla Wahling, an Uber spokesperson. We have heard from riders and drivers that they would like this sort of product. We piloted it in four cities and, following that pilot, we began using the technology, we began to use public data to determine where bike lanes and shared roads were located. Where the data is available we included it in the app.”
“Of course, one challenge that we have in Cincinnati is a lack of on-street bike infrastructure, which makes our streets less safe for active transportation users like people on bikes,” says Bauman. “As we improve our infrastructure, this technology can be even more useful. And certainly, by promoting the use of the ‘Dutch Reach’ by vehicle occupants in order to look back before throwing the car door open, Uber is helping to raise awareness of what can be a dangerous activity. Hopefully that will lead passengers to take a moment and get into the habit of checking what’s coming up behind them before anyone else gets ‘doored.’”