Milwaukeeans looking to get around via dockless scooter this summer will have three familiar brands to choose from: Bird, Lime and Spin.
The California-based operators were selected to participate in the Department of Public Works' second dockless scooter pilot program, set to run from June 1 to Nov. 15. The same three companies participated in the city's 2019 pilot program, which was the last time shared scooters were allowed on Milwaukee streets.
The 2021 pilot study was approved by the city's Common Council in April.
Each operator will deploy 1,000 scooters throughout the city, including the downtown, south side and northwest side neighborhoods. The city said it selected Bird, Lime and Spin because of their ability to track sidewalk riding and to notify riders via in-app messaging or on the scooter. The illegal use of scooters on city sidewalks was a major public safety concern that arose during the 2019 program.
Other preventative measures include requiring operators to host monthly educational events and targeted sidewalk outreach. DPW is working to hire a consultant to observe ridership behavior and keep track of where scooters are being used throughout the city.
Additionally, all three operators plan to each deploy at least 100 adaptive scooters for people of varying abilities.
As part of the pilot program, more scooters will be distributed to neighborhoods outside of downtown, compared to 2019. A maximum of 300 scooters will be allowed in the area that includes downtown, near west side, near south side and the Lower East Sde.
The move is part of larger efforts by the city to expand modes of transportation city-wide. Beginning this summer, bike sharing system Bublr will expand by 26 stations and approximately 250 bikes. DPW worked with community partners and residents to identify sites for expansion, and most stations will be installed in the Bronzeville, Harambee, Midtown, Washington Park, Silver City, Clarke Square, and Walker Square neighborhoods, according to a news release.
Of the 250 bikes, approximately 200 will be new electric-assist bikes, which aims to increase access to bicycling for people of various ages and abilities.
"The expansion of Bublr Bikes further into Milwaukee neighborhoods reaffirms the city's and Bublr Bikes’ commitment to an equitable bike share system for all Milwaukeeans,” said Jeff Polenske, Commissioner of Public Works. "And with a greater number of scooters being spread out throughout Milwaukee compared to 2019, we are greatly increasing transportation options for Black and Latinx neighborhoods."