Evers signs e-scooter bill

Dockless scooters to return to Milwaukee soon

Gov. Tony Evers holds up the signed bill.

Last updated on July 8th, 2019 at 04:00 pm

Gov. Tony Evers signed into law today a bill authorizing dockless motorized scooters on Wisconsin roads.

The signing took place at the Milwaukee Public Market, with dockless scooters from three different companies on display: Bird, Lime and Jump.

Those are the three companies that will be accepting riders in Milwaukee’s limited electric scooter pilot in three zones of the city this summer. The Milwaukee Common Council will take up the issue tomorrow, and Mayor Tom Barrett said he expects the scooters to be back on the streets in the next few weeks.

“None of this would have happened if it were not for the support of Gov. Evers. And I want us to acknowledge Gov. Evers for his leadership on this issue. I want to thank him for working with local government. It’s great to have a governor that wants to work with local government,” Barrett said at the signing.

Barrett said the bipartisan scooter legislation paves the way for Milwaukee to build upon best practices from cities like Nashville and Austin in rolling out the scooter programs.

Bird Rides Inc. first dropped its scooters on Milwaukee curbs one year ago, and the transportation devices have been in limbo ever since. In May, the City of Milwaukee and Bird settled their lawsuit over the legality of the scooters’ operation here. Bird argued the scooters were legal under federal law. Milwaukee argued the scooters were illegal under state law, and it needed guidance from the state Legislature to allow them.

The Common Council last summer approved an electric scooter pilot pending state legislation, and the company and city indicated they would remove the scooters and cooperate with each other.

“It was just a little over a year ago or maybe exactly a year ago where we started seeing bird droppings, if you will: The first sign of scooters in the city of Milwaukee,” Barrett said. “There was a lot of enthusiasm by some of the residents. There was a lot of concern raised by some of the residents. And it was clear to us that this mode of transportation was something that some individuals wanted to partake in.”

Evers said the bill clears up ambiguity in the law, expands transportation options and gives municipalities a way to balance safety and right of way access for all movers.

“Electric scooters can improve access to low-cost transportation options, reduce single occupancy vehicle use and can serve as a first- and last-mile solution to residents and visitors in communities all across the state,” Evers said. “This will also allow municipalities like Milwaukee to pass ordinances controlling the rental and operation of electric scooters and to (make) very specific requirements such as parking and sidewalk limitations necessary to operate in that jurisdiction.”

Tourism Secretary Sara Meaney said the scooters will make southeastern Wisconsin more attractive to visitors for upcoming international events such as the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee and the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Haven.

“2020 really will be a big time for Milwaukee and for the entire state of Wisconsin. Thousands of people are going to make their way to Wisconsin for the DNC and the Ryder Cup,” Meaney said. “They’re going to need to get around, they’re going to need a way to remember their time in Wisconsin and Milwaukee, and this is the first time in history that both of these events are being held in Wisconsin. It gives us an opportunity on the national and international stage to be talking about what a great place it is to spend time and to get around.”

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Molly Dill
Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.