MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Minneapolis could see triple the number of electric scooters hitting the streets this spring.
The city’s Transportation and Public Works Committee voted Tuesday to renew and extend a pilot program for electric scooters until March 2020. The new license agreement will allow a maximum of 2,000 electric scooters throughout the city, up from 400 during last year’s pilot program.
"I think there’s tremendous potential for that significant expansion, especially broader distribution," said Josh Johnson, the advanced mobility manager of City of Minneapolis Public Works.
Electric scooters started cropping up in both Minneapolis and St. Paul last summer, put out by companies such as Bird and Lime. Both cities quickly approved pilot programs so they could evaluate how well the scooters worked and determine how to manage them in the future.
Changes for extended pilot program
Based on last year’s trial run, city officials believe scooters are a viable transportation option for all Minneapolis residents if they are dispersed equitably throughout the city and have more inclusive options to pay for rentals.
One of the key aspects of the extended pilot program is a more equitable distribution of the scooters throughout the city. Under the new licensing agreement, no more than 40 percent of the scooters can be downtown and at least 30 percent must be distributed in low-income areas.
The scooter companies must also offer low-income proving and alternative access options.
The city will also require scooters to be self-locking and parked upright using a kickstand when not in use. Scooters have to be parked in a location that does not impede pedestrian travel or access to crosswalks, driveways, transit stops or loading zones.
2018 pilot program results
According to data collected by the city from Bird and Lime, between July and November, when the pilot program ended, users took more than 243,000 rides on the electric scooters in Minneapolis and rode on 87 percent of city streets.
A survey developed by the city and distributed to users through both companies found that 62 percent reported using the scooters multiple times a month and 19 percent used them multiple times per week. Forty-two percent of respondents said their use of personal vehicles, taxis and ride-sharing services decreased when they had access to electric scooters.
City officials also reviewed complaints about the scooters that the city received during the trial run. Starting in mid-August, the city received 47 parking complaints, 34 about riding complaints and four damaged or broken scooter complaints.
Electric scooters were also involved in four crashes, but no severe injuries were reported.
After evaluating last year’s pilot program, the city’s public works department recommended renewing and extending the pilot program to “determine how to best position scooters long-term as a viable transportation option for all in Minneapolis,” according to city documents.