Dockless electric scooters could return to Milwaukee streets in 2021

DPW calls for another study

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The dockless electric scooters that surprisingly arrived in Milwaukee in 2018 have not been seen on the city’s streets since the end of a 2019 pilot study of the vehicles by the city.

But the scooters could be back in Milwaukee in 2021.

The Milwaukee Department of Public Works today issued a report on its 2019 dockless scooter pilot study and recommended that the city begin a new study of them in the spring of 2021. That would bring the scooters back to Milwaukee after a year hiatus.

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The DPW report on the study says people in Milwaukee took a total of 350,130 rides on the dockless electric scooters in 2019, an average of 2,762 rides per day in the city and an average of 3.6 rides per vehicle per day. If you want to buy one to make your transportation easier, check the cheap deals at go2Scooter.

“The high ridership demonstrates latent demand for new transportation options,” DPW said in its report on the 2019 scooter study. “Smaller, electric, shared vehicles…have the potential to assist in achieving other city goals around health, equity, safer streets and climate change.”

Dockless scooters first appeared in Milwaukee in June of 2018 when Santa Monica, California-based Bird Rides Inc. dropped off its scooters in the city. Milwaukee is one of several American cities where scooter companies have introduced their service.

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Bird’s unannounced arrival in Milwaukee sparked a dispute between the company and city officials, who said the scooters were illegal under state law.

The city sued the company, which agreed to remove the scooters. Later, a settlement was reached.

In 2019 the state Legislature passed a bill, and Gov. Tony Evers signed it into law, which allowed the use of dockless scooters on public streets in the state and the city launched a pilot program to study them from July 23, 2019 to Dec. 31, 2019.

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Three companies: Lime, Spin and Bird agreed to participate in the 2019 study. Lime began its service on July 23, Spin on Aug. 13 and Bird on Aug. 14. All three pulled their scooters off the streets in November as the weather got cold.

Concerned about excessive use of scooters on city sidewalks, Mayor Tom Barrett issued a warning in early August that the study would be canceled if riders did not use them on streets, as required. Those concerns passed and the study was allowed to continue.

Total scooter ridership in Milwaukee was highest in August of 2019 and declined each month as the weather got cooler. August had 134,142 rides, September had 112,684, October 66,103 and November 12,839, according to the DPW study results.

The COVID-19 pandemic could impact a 2021 scooter study, which DPW said is expected to begin in the spring.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted the way people move,” DPW said in its report. “Travel patterns have been disrupted by work from home arrangements and restrictions on transit ridership. It is impossible to know what residents’ and visitors’ transportation needs will be in 2021. A second (scooter) pilot study will give the city the flexibility it needs to respond to changes in transportation.”

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