Milwaukee halts scooter pilot expansion until user issues resolved

Places indefinite hold on pilot program

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

Last updated on August 5th, 2019 at 02:28 pm

The city of Milwaukee has halted any expansion of its dockless scooter pilot study after receiving dozens of complaints about unsafe riding practices by users.

Mayor Tom Barrett said Friday afternoon that the city put the applications of two operators that initially applied for the program, Bird and Spin, on hold indefinitely.

In addition, the Department of Public Works has denied Lime’s request to drop an undisclosed amount of additional scooters on city streets.

Lime will be able to keep its 500 scooters currently on the streets in the city. The company will remain the only company approved to operate its electric, dockless scooters on Milwaukee’s streets– at least until users follow the rules of the road.

Barrett said the city has received more than 170 complaints that riders are not being safe or responsible while using the scooters, including riding on sidewalks, parking in the way of pedestrians and ignoring stop signs.

“We want to move this forward, but it won’t work if we don’t have compliance with the law,” Barrett said.

San Francisco-based Lime deployed its scooters last month after Gov. Tony Evers signed dockless scooter legislation into law, and the Milwaukee Common Council approved an ordinance regulating motorized scooters, allowing the pilot to move forward.

The DPW pilot study is evaluating the impacts of dockless scooters on the access to the public right of way – a concern that has been raised by critics who have seen scooters obstruct sidewalks in other cities – with the aim of increasing transportation options and expanding access to transit.

Calling it a safety and quality of life issue, Barrett warned scooter operators and users to demonstrate that the vehicles can be used safely and responsibly in Milwaukee or the pilot could end.

A timeline for a decision on the program’s future has not yet been determined, but Barrett said he wants to see if the issues and complaints improve within the next week.

He said the city is working closely with Lime and, if approved, other operators to educate the public on responsible use of the scooters. Those efforts include improving messaging posted on the scooters.

“Education is paramount right now so that people know what we’re trying to do to make this work,” he said.

Barrett said almost 25,000 total rides had been taken on Lime’s scooters as of Aug. 1, and repeat users had surpassed 5,000.

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Maredithe Meyer
Maredithe Meyer started as an intern reporter at BizTimes in summer 2015. She currently covers entertainment, sports, tourism and restaurants. In May 2017, she graduated with a journalism degree from Marquette University where she worked as an in-depth projects reporter for the Marquette Wire and Marquette Tribune.