Jeramey Jannene

City Will Double Number of Permitted Scooters, Ends “Pause”

Bird, Spin will be allowed to enter Milwaukee market.

By - Aug 10th, 2019 10:42 am
Bird e-scooters. Photo by Dave Reid.

Bird e-scooters. Photo by Dave Reid.

Two additional electric scooter operators are slated to enter the Milwaukee market next week, ending a “pause” placed on the pilot program by Mayor Tom Barrett on August 2nd. The move would double the number of scooters on city streets.

The city intends to approve the applications into the scooter program for Bird and Spin as early as Monday. Each company, including existing entrant Lime, will be allowed 350 scooters bringing the citywide total to 1,050.

The announcement comes after the Department of Public Works (DPW) said it conducted an eight-hour-long survey of scooter users on the East Side, Historic Third Ward and Downtown. The study found that 83 percent of observed trips were taking place in the street as required by law. The DPW press release did not provide compliance statistics for bicycles and motor vehicles.

Barrett, during an August 2nd press conference, said the city had received over 100 complaints in less than a month regarding sidewalk riding, parked scooters blocking the sidewalk and wrong-way bike lane riding.

“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.

“We will continue to focus on safety and on addressing the concerns,” said Barrett in a press release. “I am pleased scooter companies are working with their customers to increase awareness and ensure safe riding for everyone on our streets and sidewalks.”

Lime, which was previously approved to have up to 500 scooters citywide, has had its allotment scaled back to 350.

“Each operator’s allowed fleet plan has been scaled back to ensure the number of scooters in circulation are manageable and being used properly,” said Department of Public Works Commissioner Jeff Polenske in the Saturday morning press release. “We will frequently assess the fleet size and determine if adjustments need to be made.”

The three companies will be able to place up to 250 dockless scooters each in an area east of Interstate 43 running from W. Oklahoma Ave. north to the city limits near W. Capitol Dr. that includes Downtown, the East Side, Brewers Hill, BronzevilleHarambeeBay View and a special cutout west to N. 22nd St. for Marquette University.

The companies are able to place 100 additional scooters, bringing each company’s total fleet size to 350, in two additional zones (50 scooters per zone) which encompass the rest of the city and are roughly divided by Interstate 94. The pilot program documentation outlines a scenario where scooter fleets would be allowed to increase to 1,000 if certain performance metrics outlined in the pilot study, including utilization, are met.

According to data provided to the city by Lime, over 53,000 trips have been taken on scooters since they launched on July 23rd.

Terms of the city’s pilot document require the companies to pay the city $50 per scooter deployed through the end of 2019 and $300 to review the application.

The pilot is scheduled to end on December 31st, 2019. A formal permitting program is intended to replace it.

Bird will return to the Milwaukee market after pulling its scooters from city streets last August after the city sued the company for violating state law and deploying its scooters on city streets without notice. Spin, owned by Ford Motor Company, will enter the Milwaukee market for the first time.

Scooters from each of the companies can be unlocked using smartphone applications.

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Categories: Transportation

2 thoughts on “Transportation: City Will Double Number of Permitted Scooters, Ends “Pause””

  1. Lee Bitts says:

    So, what are the safety requirements for scooters? Helmets?

    What happens if you have to come to a sudden stop?

    Sounds like scooter mania is revving up and automobile drivers are now having an additional roadway companion to monitor in addition to bicyclists and errant pedestrians.

    By the way, how many bicyclists and pedestrians observe stop lights and other traffic restrictions?

    I’ve seen scooter riders suddenly appear out of nowhere going quite fast and entering the streets of their choice without seemingly slowing down How many are looking both ways before doing so?

    So many questions.

  2. Dale Bunger says:

    I agree that the scooter roll-out has been less than ideal and time will tell if people get on board with the rules. However, I would say that pedestrians as a whole follow the rules of the road at least as much as the average driver and I pity the person trying to rightfully cross any street at a crosswalk without a light. Most drivers appear to think that the city streets were meant exclusively for them and that pedestrians, bikes, and other traffic are somehow encroaching on their rights. Maybe if the bike lanes weren’t consistently used as a passing lane, people on scooters and bikes would be more likely to use them as intended.

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