The warm weather has brought electric scooters out of their winter hibernation and back to the streets of St. Paul.
The city renewed its contracts with California-based Lime and Bird through the end of the year, and already residents are zipping around on the popular dockless vehicles.
"We're excited to have scooters available again this summer for people to get around and through St. Paul, and enjoy everything that St. Paul has to offer," said Lisa Hiebert, spokesperson for St. Paul Public Works.
Lime has deployed 700 scooters throughout the city, and Bird plans to deliver an additional 500, Hiebert said. Vendors Lyft and Bird rolled out an additional 1,000 scooters over the weekend in Minneapolis, where city officials hope to have a fleet of 2,500 by Memorial Day.
The scooters first arrived in the Twin Cities in 2018, when vendors unexpectedly introduced their fleets to the streets and left local leaders scrambling to develop new regulations.
Now residents have grown used to the vehicles, which Hiebert said have become an affordable and sustainable transportation option for many (though they cannot be used on sidewalks, she said).
St. Paul renews its contracts with operators each year and can authorize up to 2,000 scooters total. The vendor companies hire people to charge the scooters each night and spread them out around the city.
The contracts cap the number of scooters allowed in downtown St. Paul and require companies to deploy a minimum number of scooters in areas of concentrated poverty where more than half of residents are people of color.
St. Paul receives 10 cents per ride from vendors and an additional 20 cents for each ride that starts or ends in a park. The scooters are usually available until Nov. 1, or whenever it becomes too cold for use.
Katie Galioto • 612-673-4478