City launches its next dockless scooter pilot study

Last updated on September 6th, 2022 at 02:29 pm

The city of Milwaukee has launched its 2022-23 dockless scooter pilot study. Lime, Spin and Veo were the scooter companies selected to participate.

Similar to the city’s scooter pilot studies in 2019 and 2021, this study allows scooter companies to offer public scooter rentals in a program managed by the city’s Department of Public Works. The goal of the study is to evaluate how to best incorporate the scooters in the city’s transportation landscape moving forward, city officials say.

“This scooter pilot builds on our mission to explore ways that technology can expand transportation options for our city. From The Hop to Bublr bikeshare to dockless scooters, these opportunities help connect people to businesses while adding more activity and vitality to our streets,” Mayor Cavalier Johnson said.

Lime and Spin will being with a small feet of scooters in the city during the early part of this month. Veo will deploy scooters later this month. The operators are then expected to grow their fleet size. A maximum of 1,800 scooters will be allowed citywide (600 per operator).

San Francisco-based Neutron Holdings, Inc., d.b.a. Lime, returned to Milwaukee this week with 100 of the latest version of its e-scooters, and says it plans to scale up to 600 in the city.

“Lime is proud to return to Milwaukee for the third year in a row to provide residents and visitors a safe, affordable, and sustainable way to experience the city. We know what it takes to run a successful e-scooter sharing program here and we are excited to implement our plan focused on equity and safety, especially with regard to preventing sidewalk riding and improper parking. We look forward to the best year yet of serving Milwaukee with our safe, sustainable, and affordable shared electric vehicles,” said LeAaron Foley, director of government and community relations at Lime.

Since Lime first launched in Milwaukee in 2019, more than 140,000 riders have taken over 565,000 trips on Lime vehicles, traveling nearly 700,000 miles, the company says.

In June, less than a year after city officials banned dockless scooters downtown and in nearby areas, the Milwaukee Common Council approved the city’s third dockless scooter pilot study. The new study 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.

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.

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 its first pilot program to study them from July 23, 2019 to Dec. 31, 2019.

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Andrew is the editor of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joined BizTimes in 2003, serving as managing editor and real estate reporter for 11 years. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, he is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, their son, Zach, and their dog, Hokey. He is an avid sports fan and is a member of the Muskego Athletic Association board of directors.

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