Jeramey Jannene
Transportation

City Blocking New Scooters, 100+ Complaints About Bad Riders

City pushing pause on scooter pilot program to push for less sidewalk riding.

By - Aug 2nd, 2019 04:17 pm
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Lime scooters on Broadway in the Historic Third Ward. Photo by Dave Reid.

Lime scooters on Broadway in the Historic Third Ward. Photo by Dave Reid.

The City of Milwaukee is blocking Lime and other companies from deploying additional electric scooters while it pushes for better compliance with the law.

“We are having some problems,” said Mayor Tom Barrett at a Friday afternoon press conference. “We want to make this work, but it is not going to work if we don’t have compliance with the law.” Chief among the issues is sidewalk riding, followed by parking in the middle of the sidewalk and riding the wrong way in bike lanes.

Barrett said the city has received well over 100 complaints already. Meanwhile, Lime, the only company authorized currently to have scooters on the city’s streets, has had approximately 5,000 riders take its 500 scooters for just under 25,000 rides since the vehicles arrived on July 23rd. The company has already requested to deploy more scooters, but the Department of Public Works has denied the request because of complaints.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” said Barrett about those that are following the law. “That’s the vast majority of people that used the scooters.” He characterized the offenders as a “small number of people that ruin this for everyone.” The Mayor said public education was needed to improve the experience for everyone.

He characterized the views on scooters as a “generational issue” with young people favoring the devices, while older people have filed the most complaints. He acknowledged there are serious concerns with those with seeing-eye dogs and other mobility aids. He also told a story of having to walk into the street himself the day the scooters were approved to avoid a sidewalk rider. “The law is clear, they are motorized vehicles and they need to be in the street.”

But what about bad automobile drivers? The city has not proposed not allowing new drivers despite a wave of reckless driving. “I think the difference is this is clearly a pilot study,” said Barrett. “This is a safety issue, but this is also a quality of life issue.”

“It’s my hope that we will be able to work this out,” said Barrett. He said he wasn’t aware if the Milwaukee Police Department had issued any tickets for sidewalk riding, but would like to see the department focus its resources on higher priority issues. MPD is able to issue a fine ranging from $20 to $40 for a rider’s first offense.

How soon will the city make a decision to allow additional applicants to enter the market or Lime to deploy more scooters? Barrett said the decision would come in weeks, not months. Department of Public Works marketing and communications officer Brian DeNeve characterized Lime as a “responsive partner” and said the city would work with them to increase the visibility of the rules on the scooters themselves. The scooters currently display a no sidewalk riding message below the handlebars.

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4 thoughts on “Transportation: City Blocking New Scooters, 100+ Complaints About Bad Riders”

  1. Y2000 says:

    The company could take the lead in theses types of problems by banning riders for a few days if they have been found riding incorrectly. It is pretty easy for the company to sift scooter data to determine if a rider is on the sidewalk riding at a certain speed. Technology makes enforcement of this simple. Ideally the City should mandate these requirements to continue operations.

    I have had to move a scooter that was parked in the middle of the sidewalk. I also noticed several that were nicely parked at a bus stop blocking the rear door exit of the bus. again, the company could program virtual scooter parking locations mapped so they don’t block bus stops, entrances, etc. Any scooter parked in a mapped “red zone” would result in a “parking fee” to the rider which would be forwarded to the city.

  2. Janine Chambers says:

    Are scooters allowed on the Oak Leaf Trail?

  3. Daniel Adams says:

    Lime definitely needs to do some education for its chargers who set out the scooters in the morning. I’ve seen them placed in groups early in the morning in places that were very clearly not where they should be (in the middle of a bike trail, in the middle of corner curb cuts at sidewalks, in front of entrances to buildings). I say this as someone who occasionally uses the scooters and thinks they can be a good addition to our transportation network.

  4. Dave Reid says:

    @Dan. In regards to placement of charged bikes this is on Lime… Juicers have to serve the scooter where Lime has what is called a LimeHub. Serve a scooter not at a hub and get no payment. So my guess as to what is happening here is the coordinates Lime is using for certain hubs are incorrect… I’ve tested the system a bit and noticed hubs in incorrect locations (The address doesn’t match the GPS coordinate to drop off at). Hopefully chargers (Juicers) are notifying Lime about the incorrect locations and this will improve.

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