Electric scooters are returning to the streets of Greensboro on Monday, January 28 according to Chris Spencer with the Greensboro Department of Transportation.
Last August Bird Rides Inc. dropped off about 100 electric scooters in Greensboro and by October had an estimated 450 in town. But in early November the city ordered the scooters off the streets and Bird complied. The problem from the city’s point of view was that the scooters were unregulated and not incidentally the city wasn’t making a dime from them.
Bird was right about one thing, the scooters were popular. In the three months they were in operation in Greensboro the scooters racked up over 25,000 rides for a total of over 36,000 miles of scooter travel.
Rather than ban the scooters the City Council passed an ordinance on Nov. 20 that set fees for the scooter companies and also established regulations for the companies as well as for the operation of the scooters.
Spencer said that the city had been working with both Bird and Lime on the regulations which include having the companies share their data with the city particularly about complaints and crashes. Both Lime and Bird have now met the requirements and Spencer said the city was prepared to issue the permits on Monday.
He said he wasn’t certain that both companies would put scooters out on the streets on Monday, but he thought at least one would.
The ordinance established a pilot program where the companies pay a $500 fee plus $50 per scooter to operate in Greensboro until August. Spencer said the city would evaluate the data and also survey the people of Greensboro and then make a decision on whether to extend the program or not.
Spencer said he could see the fees becoming annual fees if the City Council decided that they wanted to allow electric scooters to continue to operate in Greensboro.
The companies are limited to 200 scooters each during the trial period and Spencer said that it would probably take them at least a couple of weeks to ramp up to that level because they had to hire people to pick the scooters up at night and recharge them.
The regulations limit where the scooters can be ridden – not on the sidewalks, where they can be parked – not blocking sidewalks or entrances to buildings, and require the companies to carry insurance. Riders are encouraged but not required to wear helmets.
So next week, scooters should be back.