Jeramey Jannene

City Approves Scooters Through 2023

But it will take until at least August for private operators to re-enter Milwaukee.

By - Jun 21st, 2022 12:18 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.

Dockless electric scooters are cleared to return to Milwaukee’s streets.

By a unanimous vote and with no discussion, the Common Council authorized a third, and possibly final, pilot study Tuesday morning that authorizes scooter deployment through the end of 2023.

The Department of Public Works is authorized to issue a request for proposals for up to three private operators to deploy a maximum of 600 scooters each on Milwaukee streets. Department officials anticipate issuing the RFP in the coming days, with the companies deploying their scooters in August.

Unlike the 2021 study, the 2022-2023 study does not include an automatic trigger to ban greater downtown area usage if a consultant determines more than 10% of riders are improperly using the sidewalk to ride. But a specific operator could be terminated for failing to comply with the program regulations.

In 2019 and 2021, the same three companies — Bird, Lime and Spin — were authorized to deploy scooters in Milwaukee.

DPW representatives said that geofencing could be used to limit speeds for vehicles that GPS technology indicates are on a sidewalk. Such geofencing is already used to prohibit riverwalk riding and ending a ride in certain areas

The new program would impose a $0.25-per-trip fee, $25-per-incident relocation fee and a $50-per-scooter fee. The fees are to be used to monitor and administer the pilot program.

In 2021, DPW reports that people took 481,706 riders on the electric scooters, an average of 2,452 rides per day over the five-and-a-half month pilot study. That’s up from 350,130 rides in 2019.

The average ride time was 10 minutes, with an average distance of 0.9 miles. Each individual scooter, rentable with a smartphone application, was used an average of 2.6 times per day. The companies were each allowed to deploy up to 1,000 scooters in the city. Under the new pilot, they will be allowed 600 scooters each.

There were 15 scooter crashes reported to the Milwaukee Police Department, the majority of which occurred in an area bounded by W. Locust St. and W. Lisbon Ave., between I-43 and N. Sherman Blvd. None were reported Downtown or on the Lower East Side. In one of the crashes, one rider ran into another head on. At least two crashes occurred because riders were improperly using the sidewalk and then re-entering the street. Many crashes, based on one-sentence descriptions, were the fault of motorists.

Each company operating in Milwaukee in 2021 integrated technology into its scooters to detect sidewalk riding. But it wasn’t entirely effective. The third-party consultant found that 25.5% of all riders observed over three visual monitoring periods were riding entirely on the sidewalk.

Bird relied on a GPS-based technology. Approximately half of its scooters had the technology by fall 2021, with scooters eventually stopping if sidewalk riding continued on a trip.

Lime used GPS location data mixed with vibration data to warn riders who spent more than 50% of a trip on the sidewalk that a fine of $10 could be issued. No fines were issued, though the technology was integrated into every scooter it offered.

Spin used a camera mounted on 100 of its scooters to detect sidewalk riding, with an audio alarm that went off until a rider returned to the street.

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