Jeramey Jannene

Milwaukee Wants Your Input on Future of Dockless Scooters

432,794 trips taken through end of September, but downtown ban cut ridership 50%.

By - Oct 19th, 2021 01:01 pm
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.

Do you have an opinion on the dockless electric scooters that dot Milwaukee’s streets and sidewalks?

The Department of Public Works wants your feedback. It’s launched an 18-question survey to gauge feedback from riders and non-riders alike.

The survey responses will be used to guide city policy on whether to adopt a permanent regulatory framework, create another one-year pilot study or prohibit the scooters altogether.

The 2021 pilot study, which enables the three scooter providers to operate in Milwaukee, ends on Nov. 15. Lime, Bird and Spin are each allowed to place up to 1,000 scooters per day across the city, with a maximum of 100 per-provider in the greater downtown area.

But a big change came on Aug. 3. Scooter trips were prohibited from starting or stopping in the greater downtown area (the study’s Zone 1). 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 remainder of the city is divided into six zones.

At the time of the restriction, 21% of the 298,000 trips taken in 2021 originated 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.

A total of 432,794 scooter trips were taken through the end of September. But the monthly trip total fell by more than 50% after the downtown prohibition was imposed.

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.

The 2019 survey found that 57% of respondents reported never having taken a scooter ride. Of those that took a trip on a scooter, 44% of survey respondents reported their last trip replaced a personal vehicle or rideshare (Uber/Lyft) trip. Forty percent reported it replaced a trip that would have otherwise been completed by walking. Approximately 7% reported it replacing a bus or streetcar trip.

Of those that never rode a scooter in 2019, but responded to the survey, 64% wanted to see scooters continue to be permitted. Those that took two or more trips had a 96% endorsement rate for bringing the vehicles back. But as a result of the pandemic, the Common Council and DPW never advanced a 2020 pilot study. A study was reauthorized for 2021 with the first rentable vehicles appearing on city streets by June 1.

The 2021 pilot study has three goals: provide equitable transportation services, increase the availability of transportation options and evaluate the scooters’ impact on access to the public right of way.

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. Excess revenues from the study, according to a DPW presentation, could be used to fund improved bicycle and scooter infrastructure. The city collected $68,400 in 2019, only imposing a $50 per scooter fee.

The resulting cost to the user, charged on a per-minute basis, is often slightly more than a bus ride but less than a trip with Uber or Lyft.

The survey is available in English, Spanish and Hmong.

The results of the 2019 study are available on the DPW website.

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Categories: Transportation

One thought on “Transportation: Milwaukee Wants Your Input on Future of Dockless Scooters”

  1. Wardt01 says:

    Jeremy,, can you find out why the results of the 2021 intersection count report still has not been published on the city’s website for the dockless scooter program.

    Zones 2 – 6 also were to have additional enforcement/regulations due to the 10% threshold being exceeded. These details are also completely absent from the city’s website.

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