Dockless scooters are one of the infamous Shared Active Transportation (SAT) vehicles on the market right now. They have two wheels and run on electricity. Small vehicles, such as these, can be rented for short periods of time or short distances to help with urban mobility and cut down on the carbon footprint. They can include docked and dockless scooters, bikes, and other last-mile transportation vehicles. According to NATCO (National Association of City Transportation Officials), shared active transportation is common now, up to 100,000 or more rented bicycles have made over 35 million trips.
Both companies have invested more than $415 million. Lyft and Uber are also looking into SAT options.
Cities are Pushing Back
While many consumers enjoy the ability to rent a bicycle or scooter, some city officials aren’t happy about it. San Francisco recently cracked down on scooters earlier in 2018, confiscating 66 of them for being on public sidewalks. They also require a stronger permit plan, which makes it harder to deploy scooters in that city.
Cambridge, Massachusetts also collected over 60 scoots earlier in 2018 while Ann Arbor, Michigan officials confiscated Bird-branded scooters that popped up in the city claiming that they weren’t licensed correctly.
While city officials dislike the scooters clogging sidewalks that pedestrians should use, emergency-room doctors are also skeptical about electric scooter rentals. When the launch of dockless scooters popped up in seven different cities, severe accidents also spiked. One hospital claimed to have seen up to 10 injuries relating to scooters every week.
Because of these issues, most cities have banned scooters until they can regulate them better and enact appropriate SAT rules, especially in regards to dockless mobility vehicles.
The government and city planners stand firm that the solution provided has to be in line with existing laws. They also have to determine how companies run businesses with a public right-of-way, deal with zoning regulations, and handle existing contracts with current service providers.
Moving from Considerations to Regulations
It is essential for city planners and government officials to promote their considerations and policies and determine what should be included in the new regulations.
For one, permits are a top concern and each city has a unique permitting process, which often requires many things. Therefore, city officials must determine if they’re going to create new rules for SAT or if they’re going to continue with current sharing provisions.
Along with such, there have to be regulations in place for operational and safety standards. Cities can create their own standards for SAT vehicles, which can include maximum speeds, front/rear lights, remote lockdown, brake function, maintenance checks, and much more. It’s essential that everyone follow the rules to ensure that those on the scooters and those nearby are safe. To help with this, geo-fencing may be involved, which limits the speed based on the area in which the scooter is. For example, Bird added geo-fencing to slow scooters down to 8 mph when it enters the beach on a known bike trail.