City giving scooters another shot

Third dockless scooter study expected to go live sometime in August

Lime scooters in the Historic Third Ward.
Lime scooters in the Historic Third Ward in 2021.

Less than a year after city officials banned dockless scooters downtown and in nearby areas, the Milwaukee Common Council has approved the city’s third scooter pilot study aimed at seeing if Milwaukee residents and visitors can make proper use of the scooters.

Scooters are expected to be on the streets by early August, and the study itself is slated to run through Dec. 31 of 2023, according to a city press release. Alderman approved the study on Tuesday.

“Incorporating new technology with multiple modes of transportation adds vitality to Milwaukee, increasing public activity, and connecting people to neighborhood businesses. This scooter pilot aligns with that vision, and I thank the Common Council for approving this program,” Mayor Cavalier Johnson said in a statement.

Similar to the 2019 and 2021 Milwaukee scooter pilot studies, the 2022-23 pilot will allow a maximum of three scooter companies and will be managed by the city’s Department of Public Works (DPW). The new study is designed to “build upon observations and data” gathered from the previous two studies, a press release states.

Under this new pilot study, the city will allow a maximum of 1,800 scooters citywide, with broader dispersal of the machines across more neighborhoods. As a result, there will be fewer scooters downtown than before. The new study also includes a revised fee structure, with the charge per scooter being set at $50, and the price per trip at 25 cents.

With scooter riding still banned on all sidewalks, companies participating in the pilot study are required to have some kind of sidewalk riding detection technology and a plan to address the issue of sidewalk riding if it becomes an issue.

Illegal sidewalk riding was a key factor in the city’s decision to ban dockless scooters downtown and parts of the near west side, near south side and Lower East Side, last year. The decision was made in early August after a third-party consultant discovered that 30% of all trips in Milwaukee’s “Zone 1” occurred on sidewalks, exceeding the 10% limit of sidewalk trips permitted in a legislative provision established by the Common Council earlier that year.

Last year’s pilot study showed what the city has called “significant ridership,” with data provided by the three operators – Lime, Bird and Spin – revealing scooter users taking an average of 2,452 rides per day.

The study also showed people using the scooters, not just for fun, but to get from point A to point B. According to the results, 74% of trips were non-recreational.

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