City Sets First Rules for Scooters, More to Come
The City of Columbus released its first set of rules for companies operating “shared mobility devices,” its term for electric scooters, dockless bikes and other types of small vehicles that have yet to be deployed here but may be in the future.
One significant element of the new rules is that “at least some of the devices,” must be deployed in neighborhoods outside of Downtown.
Jeff Ortega, spokesperson for the Department of Public Service, said that the Office of the Mayor will work to lay out the specific rules for placement, but that they will be based on the city’s designated “opportunity zones.”
“The city has an interest in seeing how these shared mobility devices can provide additional mobility options to residents and visitors to the city,” said Ortega. “And also, to ensure that as broad a spectrum of people as possible can have access to these types of devices.”
Also spelled out is a requirement to share a significant amount of data with the city, including real-time location information about unreserved scooters, information about trip origins and destinations, and daily and monthly usage summaries.
Customers without access to a credit card must also have a way to rent the devices. Both Bird and Lime say that they currently accommodate non-banked users.
The other requirements, as laid out in a statement released by the city yesterday:
- The devices must be parked in an upright position and cannot be parked in the vehicle portions of the street, including parking spots and loading zones. They also cannot be parked in doorways, and they cannot block pedestrians on sidewalks or curb ramps, fire escapes, inside bus shelters, in driveways or on unauthorized private property or unapproved non-public spaces.
- The City of Columbus may designate parking/staging spots for the devices in the city to assist with keeping order in the public’s right of way.
- Each company that receives a permit to offer Shared Mobility Devices in the city is limited to offering up to 500 devices. The Director of Public Service has the authority to increase this number based on demand and usage.
- The devices offered must not be able to go faster than 15 MPH.
Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein has said that the scooters can be operated on either the sidewalk or the street, “because of the lack of clarity in the law,” but more guidance on that front could be coming soon.
Ortega said that a collaborative effort is underway now to craft additional rules governing the usage of the devices, and that some of those may require changes to city code.