The Minneapolis City Council on Friday approved a license agreement with two scooter operators through a pilot program that would run until Nov. 30.
The agreement requires Bird Rides Inc. and Lime to pay the city $20 per scooter and make available no more than 200 in the first two months and remove them by winter. The agreement prohibits parked scooters from blocking sidewalks, parking meters, loading zones and other public rights of way.
State law prohibits the use of motorized foot scooters on a sidewalk, but allows it on a “bicycle path, bicycle lane, bicycle trail, or bikeway that is not reserved for the exclusive use of nonmotorized traffic.” Scooter riders are required to follow the same traffic laws as bicyclists.
“The pilot is based on a lot of learning and evaluating and then guiding how we move forward in 2019 with some sort of program,” said Josh Johnson, the city’s assistant parking systems manager. “We just want to have a good understanding of how scooters fit in Minneapolis.”
The city will use data from the four-month pilot program to determine whether scooters are a good transportation option and the impact they would have on right of way. A relaunch program is expected in the spring of 2019.
The license agreement includes “robust user data privacy and protection requirements,” such as prohibiting operators from sharing personal data with third-party advertisers or other companies.
Between August and November, the city will allow the startup companies to operate 200 scooters in the first two months of the pilot program and then an additional 200 in the last two, according to the license agreement.
The city can impound scooters for parking violations and will charge operators an initial impounding fee of $56. If operators don’t retrieve the scooter on the same day, they will be charged an additional $18 storage fee per day.
So far, Johnson said he has received a handful of complaints related to the riding and parking behavior of scooter users. He also said people have sought information about where they can ride or park the scooters.
Scooter operators have clashed with regulators across the nation who are rushing to come up with rules for the new industry. Officials said they are concerned about rider and pedestrian safety. They also have said they worry about scooters littering sidewalks.
In Minneapolis, the first crash involving a scooter rider was reported on Wednesday. Police said a woman riding a scooter was injured when she collided with a cargo van in downtown Minneapolis.
The woman suffered noncritical injuries and was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center, according to John Elder, Minneapolis police spokesman. The van driver was arrested for driving with a canceled license, he said.