Electric scooters will now be available to be picked up and dropped off at Minneapolis’ parks, according to agreements approved by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Wednesday.
This is the second year that ride-share scooters have been available in the Twin Cities, with three companies — Lime, Lyft and Spin — contracting with Minneapolis. While users have been allowed to ride the scooters on park pathways, they were technically not supposed to leave them on park property, said Annie Olson, the Park Board’s director of customer service.
Before, if scooters were dropped off at parks, the Park Board would reach out to the companies to move them. Under the license agreements approved at Wednesday’s Park Board meeting, the companies will be able to deploy the scooters at parks in the morning and users will be able to drop them off there, as well.
The license agreements are similar to the ones that the city of Minneapolis has. They run through March 30, 2020.
The Park Board was at first concerned about leaving the scooters on parkland, Olson said. Members had seen images from other cities, including Portland and Houston, showing scooters tossed in piles and even on top of trees. But the city has introduced the scooters slowly, she said, and has worked with the Park Board and the University of Minnesota to track where they are being used.
Parks staff will enforce where scooters are dropped off to make sure they don’t block entrances or pedestrian traffic. “It needs to be done in a way that our recreational amenities remain accessible to people,” Olson said.
Some people have asked the Park Board why scooters can be ridden inside the parks, Olson said. However, she said, it’s “totally legal” for the scooters to be used on the bike paths.
“We can’t say that people can’t use their commuter paths. That’s what they’re for,” she said. “We just want to make sure that our park users are safe.”
Seven Park Board commissioners voted to approve the contracts, with Commissioner LaTrisha Vetaw abstaining from the vote and Commissioner AK Hassan not present at the meeting.