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Dockless Transportation Might Be Your CRE Property’s Next Great Thing

June 26, 2019

It’s convenient, cheap, and riders love it

For the consumer, it’s beautifully simple—rent a bike or scooter for as little as a dollar using a free app on your phone, pick it up at one of the numerous locations across your city, and drop it anywhere when you’re done.

Welcome to the era of dockless, urban transportation, the latest iteration of the sharing economy. Rather than shoulder the cost of car ownership, or sit in an Uber or Lyft on increasingly congested streets, some urban commuters instead opt to get around using such startups as Lime, Bird, or GoBike.

The appeal

The scope of the trend goes beyond scooters and bikes and includes motorized skateboards, e-unicycles, and electric tricycles. This marks a shift from the pricier and less-flexible docked systems which had previously been the standard in many U.S. cities. The non-electric, kick-scooter wing of the industry is also seeing growth.

The dockless movement has much promise, and provides many amenities to city-dwellers and tourists:

  • A much-needed extension of public transit, dispersing bikes and scooters into neighborhoods where subways and buses can’t or won’t go.
  • The solution for quick, short trips where a personal car or Uber isn’t necessary, be it to the corner store or grandma’s house in the next neighborhood.
  • Convenient access, with simple apps and cheap rates.
  • Good for the environment—more scooters mean fewer cars on the road.

The complications of dockless transportation

While users rejoice at having a scooter or bike around every corner, it can be a little more complicated for cities and towns. Initially, entrepreneurs dropped these bikes where they pleased around a city and let customers come to them. But this has led to a number of concerns:

  • “Bike litter:” riders drop the bikes in the middle of streets, sidewalks, and on personal and commercial property.
  • Rider safety: helmet laws or best practices still apply to these vehicles but many riders, particularly tourists, eschew them.
  • Pedestrian safety: while electric scooters are legally confined to roads or bike lanes, riders sometimes opt for more convenient sidewalks.

Several South Florida municipalities such as Miami, Coral Gables, and Fort Lauderdale are working with dockless providers to address these issues and ensure safe travel conditions for all.

Landlords and owners want in

Investors and landlords alike see potential in the dockless transportation boom. It makes their buildings more accessible and welcoming, particularly when they’re perceived as a bit off the path from public transit.

And for residents who are elderly, have young children, or physical disabilities, bike or scooter-sharing can be a great alternative to driving or walking. Many scooters in particular are light-weight enough that a tenant or worker can bring them from work to home, even if that commute includes a ride on the subway or a bus.

CRE investors and managers considering adding shared transportation to their offerings should have a multi-faceted strategy:

  • Parking or storage zones. Be a part of the “bike litter” solution by providing a convenient place for people to drop their dockless vehicles. You’ll keep your own property clear and help solve a larger problem.
  • Smooth sidewalks and entryways. A level surface for riders reduces injuries and shows your commitment to tenant safety.
  • Proactive government cooperation. Petition your local municipality to add bike lanes, charging stations, and helmet lockers in the community.

CRE embracing transportation innovation

Proactive CRE investors will see the value of the dockless trend and, in doing so, provide access to their properties for a wide variety of new potential owners and renters. Considering the dueling statistics that the population of Americans age 65 and older is expected to double by 2030 and that a fifth of Americans are under 18, this proposition seems to be a win for attracting both ends of the age spectrum.

Morris Southeast Group keeps an eye on trends in South Florida and beyond that can impact commercial real estate investment and property management. For a free consultation on our commercial real estate investment or property management services, call us at 954.474.1776. You can also reach Ken Morris directly at 954.240.4400 or via email at kenmorris@morrissegroup.com.

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