A New Approach to Transportation: Pairing Off-Street Parking with Electric Scooters

Are you tired of the endless search for parking in the city and the resulting traffic jams? Argonne National Laboratory, in collaboration with the Civic Infrastructure Collaborative and Millennium Parking Garages, has introduced a novel solution by pairing off-street parking with electric scooter rentals. This innovative approach not only reduces traffic congestion but also cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions, making urban travel more efficient and environmentally friendly. Imagine parking your car in a secure spot and zipping around the city on an e-scooter, bypassing traffic and reaching your destination faster and with a smile. This pilot program in Chicago has shown promising results, with increased user interest and expanded e-scooter fleets, demonstrating the potential for broader adoption in other urban areas aiming to enhance mobility and sustainability. Have you ever wished for a more efficient and eco-friendly way to get around the city? What if I told you there’s a game-changing approach to urban transportation that can help you do just that?

A New Approach to Transportation: Pairing Off-Street Parking with Electric Scooters

The Dread of Urban Commuting

Navigating city traffic and finding a parking spot can be some of the worst parts of your day. Studies have shown that between 25% and 40% of city center traffic congestion stems from drivers circling the block in search of parking. Not only does this waste precious time and fuel, but it also adds to traffic delays and increases greenhouse gas emissions.

The Innovative Solution

To address these issues, Argonne National Laboratory joined forces with the Civic Infrastructure Collaborative (CINCO) and Millennium Parking Garages. Together, they mapped out a strategy to pair off-street parking with electric scooter rentals, aiming to alleviate traffic congestion and reduce emissions.

The Why and How of Electric Scooters

Electric scooters are not just fun to ride; they provide a practical mode of transport that can cover short distances quickly and efficiently. These benefits caught the attention of researchers and urban planners looking to innovate urban mobility solutions.

The Genesis of the Pilot Program

In August 2022, Argonne and CINCO kicked off a pilot program with Millennium Garages, a vast underground parking facility in downtown Chicago, boasting over 9,100 spaces. The aim was to test if combining off-street parking with e-scooter rentals would entice drivers to park once and use scooters to reach multiple destinations.

How the Pilot Worked

Instead of the traditional “scooter-share” programs where you might pick up and drop off scooters anywhere, this pilot required users to register for a scooter in advance. After signing up on the Millennium Garages website, users could use their e-scooters for the whole day. Whether you need to leave the scooter at your office, use it to fetch lunch, or return it to the parking garage at the end of the day, this approach made commuting swift and stress-free.

Data Collection and User Response

To gauge the program’s success, the team collected data on user interest, distance traveled, and the number of trips taken. They also performed customer surveys to understand how people incorporated e-scooters into their commuting routines.

Results and Insights

The initial findings were promising. During the five-month pilot in 2022, 225 riders took 546 e-scooter trips, averaging 4.7 trips per day. Impressively, 90% of trips were longer than the typical walking distance of a quarter mile. User interest continued to swell in 2023, with nearly 10,000 sign-ups for the modest fleet of eight e-scooters.

Expanding the Fleet

In October 2023, the fleet doubled from eight to sixteen scooters to accommodate growing demand. This expansion wasn’t just about increasing numbers; it also involved a small rental fee to make room for more first-time riders.

The Impact on Urban Mobility

The 2023 pilot saw a 77% increase in unique riders compared to the previous year, totaling 398 riders who embarked on 1,341 trips. This initiative not only reduced carbon emissions but also helped people cover more ground than they would have on foot.

The Benefits to Millennium Garages

The success wasn’t just academic; it was palpable. The e-scooters were a hit among parking customers, with many expressing excitement about the ease and novelty of combining conventional parking with modern mobility options.

The Broader Implications

This pilot program was part of the Department of Energy’s SMART Mobility 2.0 initiative, aimed at improving transportation through innovative, efficient, and clean energy technologies. Argonne’s involvement included initial funding, conceptual design, and data analysis.

Table: Key Metrics from the Pilot Program

Year Number of Unique Riders Number of Trips Average Trips Per Day Fleet Size User Interest Sign-Ups
2022 (5 months) 225 546 4.7 8 ~10,000
2023 398 1,341 16 Increased

Looking Forward

Thanks to the overwhelming success of the pilot, Millennium Garages is now scaling up its e-scooter operations. They’re taking on the challenges of operating and maintaining the fleet, aiming to serve as a model for other facilities looking to provide low-carbon mobility options for their residents, employees, and visitors.

A Sustainable Future

Incorporating this innovative model into urban infrastructure, technology, and partnerships can pave the way for happier and healthier cities. Argonne National Laboratory is committed to finding solutions to these pressing problems, continuously conducting groundbreaking research to make cities greener and more efficient.

FAQs About the Program

  1. How did users sign up for the e-scooter program?
    • Users signed up through the Millennium Garages website. Once registered, they could use the e-scooter for the entire day.
  2. What was the average trip distance?
    • The average trip distance from the garage to the destination was 0.72 miles, well beyond the typical quarter-mile walking distance.
  3. Was the rental free?
    • Initially, yes. However, a small fee was later introduced to allow more first-time riders access to the scooters.
  4. What is Argonne National Laboratory’s role?
    • Argonne helped conceptualize the program, provided funding for the e-scooters, and conducted the data analysis for the pilot study.


This initiative is a fantastic step towards creating a more sustainable and efficient urban transportation system. By pairing off-street parking with electric scooters, we can reduce traffic congestion, cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, and make city living a bit smoother and a lot more enjoyable. So next time you’re driving into the city, why not consider parking your car and hopping on an electric scooter? You might just find it’s the best part of your day!

For more information, you can visit Argonne National Laboratory and learn more about their various initiatives aimed at making our cities and communities better places to live and work.

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