Scooter companies in Minneapolis will have to pay the city $20 per scooter, put out no more than 200 in the first two months and get them off the sidewalks by winter, under a draft license approved by a City Council committee Tuesday.
The new city license is being developed two weeks after the first of two companies put their two-wheeled rental scooters in Minneapolis.
Between August and November, the city will allow the startup companies to operate a maximum 200 scooters in the first two months of the four-month pilot program and then an additional 200 in the last two, according to a license agreement approved by the city's Transportation and Public Works Committee.
"With this pilot, we intend to take a measured approach to maintain public good," Josh Johnson, the city's assistant parking systems manager, told the committee. "We will ask for corresponding dedicated access to areas of concentrated poverty, areas that are underserved generally, and ensure that they aren't just concentrating in the densest areas of downtown."
So far, the city has received an application from Lime, which rolled out its dockless electric scooters in Minneapolis on Monday. Bird, the first company to provide scooter services in the city two weeks ago, is expected to apply later Tuesday, city officials said.
The license agreement grants the city the power to impound scooters for parking violations or emergency situations, if operators don't respond within two hours. The city could charge operators an initial impounding fee of $56.
"The operator will be held responsible for any cost incurred by the city associated with enforcement and impounding," Johnson said.
Riders of Bird and Lime scooters use the operators' mobile app to pay a $1 initial fee to unlock the scooter and then 15 cents a minute to ride.
An ordinance passed by the City Council on July 20 prohibits parked scooters from blocking sidewalks and other public rights of way. To date, the companies have taken action in response to a "limited number" of complaints the city has received about these kinds of problems, Johnson said.
If officials see patterns of parking violations in certain areas, they could impose additional restrictions on where scooters can be left. Johnson called it "geofencing."
"Just to be clear maybe about the technology, so the scooter then will actually say or do something, saying, 'I can't be left here?' " asked Council Member Cam Gordon.
"It will likely be via the app," Johnson said. "There will be some sort of notification that pops up stating the rental couldn't be ended in this area."
Council Member Steve Fletcher said he appreciates the city's welcoming of the scooter companies, and thanked the public works staff for not handling it in a more "heavy-handed way."
"I really want to encourage you to feel empowered to hold vendors accountable to behave in the good faith that you behaved toward them," Fletcher told Johnson.
The license agreement between the operators and the regulators will go to the full City Council for a vote Aug. 3.
Mukhtar M. Ibrahim • 612-673-4689 • Twitter: @mukhtaryare