After a legislative fix at the state level and a tentative blessing by the city, Lime on Tuesday became the first company to get a green light for the city’s pilot program. The city hopes the test initiative, which runs the rest of 2019, will increase transportation options, particularly “last-mile” connections to transit, while evaluating the scooters’ impact on access to the public right of way.
Lime says its scooters will begin hitting the streets today – 400 of them in a central area including Downtown, the East Side, Walker’s Point and Bay View and another 50 each in the northwestern and southern parts of the city. Lime’s scooters are located using an app, and it charges $1.00 to unlock plus 25 cents per minute of use.
“Milwaukee’s forward-thinking commitment to providing its community with diverse transportation options is inspiring,” says Nico Probst, Lime’s head of Midwest government relations and strategic development. “We are excited to partner with the city on that goal and help better connect communities across Milwaukee with our fleet of electric scooters that make it easier and more affordable to get around.”
Milwaukee’s first foray with the app-assisted electrical scooters began last summer when Bird dropped 100 of its version of the dockless scooters in Milwaukee – with no coordination with the city and, officials found out later, no state law to govern their use. Users zipped around on the scooters for six weeks before the city threatened lawsuits and Bird pulled the scooters out.
The state earlier this summer updated its statutes to allow motorized scooters under 100 pounds to essentially be treated like bicycles under traffic laws.
So this time around, the scooters arrive with rules governing their use: a 15 mph speed limit., prohibitions on riding on sidewalks and parking on the RiverWalk or otherwise impeding pedestrians. Fines await scofflaws, city officials warn. The companies require that users wear helmets – a rule widely ignored last summer.
The scooter companies will be responsible for “communicating with users, encouraging safe use of scooters, addressing improperly parked scooters and properly redistributing scooters,” Commissioner of Public Works Jeff Polenske says in a press release. “We expect Lime and all scooter operators to be community partners.”