(Published June 30, 2019)
By Angela Gagnon
Electric scooters arrived in Chicago June 15 as part of a pilot program that will run through Oct. 15. After the trial period, the city intends to assess feedback before making decisions regarding the program.
The scooters are provided from 10 different companies including Lyft and Uber and number in the thousands. The shared scooters are limited to a 50-square mile-test area on the west side, which omits the downtown area including the Loop and Lakefront Path because there are already many transportation options there.
“Scooters are an environmentally friendly alternative to car travel that can provide increased transportation access for residents throughout the city,” said Isaac Reichman, Policy Analyst for the City of Chicago’s Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP). “Those wary of the plan should understand that this is a short-term, limited pilot designed to test scooters as a viable transportation option. We welcome feedback from all residents.”
Things to know about the new shared electric scooters:
- Scooters are limited to 15 mph
- They cannot not be ridden on the sidewalks
- They operate from 5 a.m.-10 p.m.
- They must be removed from the public way by the vendors
- The cost is typically $1 to unlock the scooters and .15 cents per mile
- Helmets may be provided by some vendors but are not required. Users are advised to bring their own helmets
- Scooters will slow and shut down if riders attempt to ride outside the designated boundaries
Concerns include safety, congestion and scooters left haphazardly on the streets.
“Users should ride scooters in the same manner as they would a bike. This means avoiding the sidewalk and sticking to the bike lanes,” Reichman said. “We will be monitoring utilization and sidewalk clutter closely to understand the impact of this mobility option.”
“I think it’s fantastic.” said Chicago resident Mike Hayes, who recently checked out the electric scooters in the West Loop. “It’s a great way to move around the city if you aren’t going far.”
“I’ve been hearing a lot of good things and want to try it out,” added resident Jeremy Hayes. “It’s a fast ride, and you can just use the Uber app.”
For New Eastside and downtown residents concerned about the possibility of electric scooters coming to the Lakefront, Reichman adds, “Any decision about the future of scooters in Chicago will wait until after the pilot is completed. We will be evaluating the performance of the companies and the impact of the scooters on residents and users before making any decisions on what will come next.”