Cleveland Designates Areas for Summer Scooter Pilot

Approved by the City Council Monday night, the program will target certain neighborhoods. If the limited pilot program is successful, it could be expanded citywide in the near future.

by Robert Higgs, Advance Ohio Media / June 4, 2019
Cleveland has more than most cities.

(TNS) — Electric scooter rentals will be allowed in targeted areas of Cleveland this summer as part of a pilot project to try out new regulations governing the businesses.

The regulations, which City Council approved unanimously Monday night, will allow vendors to set up scooter stands in key areas — most of which have proven to be successful sites for bicycle-rental stands.

Among those places are the neighborhoods of downtown, Ohio City, University Circle and the Euclid Corridor, said Matt Gray, Mayor Frank Jackson’s chief of sustainability.

If the program is successful, the program could be expanded to citywide, Gray said.

The legislation, approved as an emergency, becomes effective with Jackson’s signature. The ordinance requires guidelines be drawn up within 30 days.

City Planning Director Freddie Collier expects vendors will ask for permits very quickly. The city, in turn, will also contact vendors to let them know the new rules of the road.

Last August, Cleveland ordered Bird electric scooters be removed because of safety concerns. Bird had dropped dozens of electric scooters in Cleveland without warning. The scooters immediately caused controversy.

The city said then it would draw up regulations.

The new rules, introduced in April, govern businesses that rent scooters and electric bikes. Vendors will have to pay the city a fee for each vehicle they rent.

The legislation also contains regulations aimed at ensuring that riders use the electric scooters and bikes in a safe manner.

Among the proposed regulations:

  • Riders must be at least 18 years old to rent a scooter.
  • The vehicles will not be allowed on streets with a speed limit of 35 mph or greater.
  • Riders will not be allowed to go faster than 12 mph.
  • Scooters and bikes will not be allowed to be parked on sidewalks in a manner that interferes with pedestrian flow.
  • When riders are through using the vehicles, they must park them in an upright position.
  • Vendors pay a fee for each scooter ride. The city will use that money for bike lanes and other improvements.

Councilman Kerry McCormack, the legislation’s lead sponsor, said the rules were drawn up based on best practices followed in other cities that have scooters — places such as Columbus, Nashville and Washington.

McCormack’s Ward 3 includes Ohio City, Tremont and much of the downtown — prime areas for scooters and bikes.

“What we learned [from looking at other cities] is that the cities that are doing well, the cities with neighborhoods that thrive … are cities that are embracing new modes of transportation technology,” McCormack said during a City Council hearing Monday.

Although the vendors will be based in specific parts of Cleveland, the scooters can be left anywhere.

With Bird’s system, for example, riders can find and pay for scooters via a phone app. Once the scooters are unlocked, users are charged per minute of use.

Vendors will be responsible for retrieving the scooters to recharge them.

©2019 Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.