Jeramey Jannene

Scooters Banned From Downtown

About 30% of riders found to be riding on sidewalks, triple the limit authorized by city.

By - Aug 3rd, 2021 09:25 am
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.

At least temporarily, you will no longer be able to start a trip on a dockless scooter in downtown Milwaukee.

A third-party consultant found that 30% of riders in the city-designated Zone 1 were riding on the sidewalk, tripping a legislative provision that prohibits scooters in the greater downtown zone if sidewalk riding exceeds 10%.

The Department of Public Works has ordered the three scooter companies, Bird, Lime and Spin, to not deploy scooters in the greater downtown zone and to not allow new trips to start in the zone.

Scooter usage will still be allowed in the rest of the city. The rentable scooters, accessible on a per-minute basis with a smartphone application, are provided by companies under a city pilot study.

The oddly-shaped Zone 1 is roughly bordered by W. Vliet St. and E. Ogden Ave. on the north, Lake Michigan on the east, W. National Ave. and Interstate 94 on the south and N. 22nd St. on the west.

It includes the entirety of the East Town, Westown and Historic Third Ward neighborhoods as well as the Marquette University campus west to N. 22nd St., Walker’s Point neighborhood east of Interstate 94 and north of W. National Ave., and Prospect and Farwell avenues north to E. Brady St.

Approximately 27% of the 298,000 trips taken in 2021 originated in Zone 1.

The council-adopted pilot study, which expires November 15, does not include language on how to restore scooter usage once the 10% threshold is tripped. The provision was included at the request of Alderman Robert Bauman, who represents much of the Zone 1 area.

“DPW continues to fully support greater micromobility and multimodal transportation options,” said Commissioner of Public Works Jeff Polenske in a statement. “DPW will continue to work with stakeholders, operators, elected officials and the public in hopes of safely resuming new trips and scooter deployment in Zone 1.”

The consultant, hired by the Department of Public Works and paid for by a fee assessed to the scooter companies, monitored 15 intersections for 15 total hours over a two-week period in late June and early July.

Milwaukee first allowed the scooter companies to legally operate on city streets in 2019. A total of 350,130 rides were taken that year, with the three participating companies reporting 67 crashes and 141 citizen complaints. An average of 3.6 riders per vehicle per day were taken. Department of Public Works survey conducted at the end of 2019 generated 7,658 responses, with sidewalk riding as the primary complaint.

A city-conducted study in 2019 found 17.2% of riders to be on the sidewalks. The city did not authorize any scooter operators in 2020.

Since their initial deployment, the scooter companies have rolled out new sidewalk-riding detection and deterrence features. “With additional education and outreach combined with this ever evolving technology, DPW is hopeful for reductions in sidewalk riding,” said DPW in a statement issued Tuesday morning.

The new pilot program allows each company to deploy up to 1,000 scooters across the city, but with a limit of 100 scooters each in the downtown area (Zone 1). The city is divided into seven zones.

Parking is required to be on sidewalks that are more than five feet wide. The companies, using geofencing technology, are required to not allow scooters to be parked in Lakeshore State Park, the Milwaukee RiverWalk and other designated areas. The vehicles automatically turn off when entering a prohibited area.

DPW estimates that fees from the study could bring in up to $350,000. A $25-per-scooter fee and $0.15-per-trip fee are being collected by the city. An additional $10 per scooter is being imposed to hire the consultant.

Categories: Transportation, Weekly

5 thoughts on “Transportation: Scooters Banned From Downtown”

  1. NickR says:

    Just like we’re going back to wear masks because somewhere around 30% of the population is morons that refuse to get vaccinated, 30% of the population is morons that ride the scooters on the sidewalk.

    I’m really tired of morons ruining it for the rest of us.

  2. Duane says:

    Anyone watching the show “Animal Kingdom” last week saw Craig Cody paying some local youth to collect these sidewalk scooters, then have the scooters run over by a monster truck. Awesome.

  3. shelloflight says:

    I think this would be less of an issue if we had better bicycle infrastructure downtown.

  4. JMcD says:

    Scooters are not a transportation alternative. They are entertainment. Whether it is naïveté of the rules, selfishness…whatever, they are not welcome anymore. I saw a woman, with her baby strapped to her chest, blasting up the sidewalk on a scooter on Lincoln Memorial Drive! End the experiment. Admit the failure. Move on!

  5. NieWiederKrieg says:

    The small wheels of an electric scooter.are an extreme safety hazard. The scooter has a tendency to come to an abrupt stop when going over rough or bumpy terrain, ejecting the rider head first over the handle bars. The rider flies several feet through the air and usually lands face first into concrete, asphalt, or gravel. Some riders fracture their wrists, arms, or collar bones. And the people who own these scooter rental businesses are completely aware of the large number of serious injuries caused by these scooters.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us