Posted June 05, 2020 in Articles
Author: Robert Higgs
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Rentable electric scooters will soon return to Cleveland’s streets and will likely move a bit faster and be ridden a little later than last year.
Once the administration of Mayor Frank Jackson works up new permitting rules, four vendors are expected to relaunch with permission from City Council to raise their maximum scooter speeds from 12 to 15 mph.
The council also agreed this week to allow scooters to be ridden from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. through Labor Day. Last year, riders were limited to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The change in operating hours is intended to take advantage of available daylight hours. The aim of increasing maximum speeds is to allow scooters to better flow with street traffic.
Council urged police to enforce rules prohibiting the scooters from being ridden on city sidewalks.
In an email Thursday, Jackson’s administration said the permitting process that is needed to restart the scooter programs will happen as soon as possible.
Four vendors – Bird, Lime, Spin and Wheels – are expected to resume operations the administration said in its email.
That scooters, and rentable electric bikes, are returning is important for more than just tourists, according to Councilman Kerry McCormack, whose Ward 3 includes the downtown, Ohio City and Tremont – all prime scooter territory.
For residents who can’t afford a car, or don’t want one, scooters have become a a key part of transportation McCormack said during a recent council meeting.
“Residents … have reached out to me and have said, ‘this has allowed me to commute to my job without using a vehicle’ or ‘this has allowed me to connect with the bus stop I have to get to,’” he said.
The electric scooters first hit the streets in Cleveland last August and quickly became popular. More than 200,000 rides and 2.5 million minutes of riding time were logged, according to data prepared by Cleveland’s Planning Commission.
Riders gain access to the scooters through an app on their smart phones. Once done, riders are supposed to leave the scooters parked on the sidewalk for the next rider.
The cost per minute varies between companies but is usually about 35 cents a minute. The cost is billed to a credit card attached to the smart phone app.
The return of the scooters was delayed when in March, when the city asked the companies to pull their vehicles from the streets while it settled on guidelines for safe operating during the coronavirus pandemic.
Several vendors already were enacting safety precautions – disinfecting their vehicles regularly, providing their workers with personal protection equipment and placing hand sanitizers on the vehicles.
Planning Director Freddy Collier told City Council this week that the scooter vendors would be operating under guidelines established by the federal government and the state on sanitizing and providing messages via apps to riders.