The recent wave of dockless scooters on Nashville's streets and sidewalks is hitting one business hard: bike-sharing.
Ridership through the city's B-cycle program is down about 20 percent since scooters came to town.
When B-cycle hit Nashville six years ago, the story was that people nationwide were ditching their cars to ride around town on bicycles. Now, says Tom Turner, president of the Downtown Partnership, a lot of that buzz has transferred to scooters like Bird and Lime.
Even before scooters, B-cycle faced a stiff challenge from ride-hailing companies like Lyft and Uber.
"We always knew it would evolve," he said. "We just didn't know it would evolve from bikes to scooters."
Turner says scooters might turn out to just be "transportainment," a gimmick for tourists rather than a serious mode of transportation. But that question — whether scooters are a passing fad or permanent shift in how people get around — is important to the Downtown Partnership, because it runs B-cycle.
The organization plans to study the experience in cities like Denver and Austin, which also saw a dip in bike-sharing after scooters were deployed. Turner says the issue may not even be that people prefer scooters. It could just be that riders like being able to abandon them wherever they like, instead of having to find a dock.
That could mean B-cycle will also have become dockless in order to compete. Or, at the very least, the Downtown Partnership will need to rethink where it places its racks.
One place where B-cycle remains popular, though, are along Nashville's greenways. Turner says that suggests there might be a way the two modes to coexist.