Electric scooters — the latest tech-mobility trend — do more than move people from place to place. They also gather detailed information on where and when people travel. City planners can well use that data to help them plan smarter, safer streets. And they have the leverage to demand it, in return for permission to use city-regulated sidewalk space. Rules and permit systems in many cities now require scooter providers to turn over data on everything from travel routes to flat tires.
But this has sparked a backlash. Uber, Lyft, Bird and the other leaders of Big Scooter have successfully stonewalled many cities on ride-hail data, and they haven’t been eager to turn over scooter data either. nfortunately, they found allies in the California Legislature, which considered a bill that would have prohibited any “unduly restrictive” city rules on scooter operations. This would have been bad for planning and public safety, without truly protecting privacy.