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Yaël Ksander
Communications Director
ksandery@bloomington.in.gov
812-349-3406
 

City Implements Enforcement of Scooter Use, Seeks Interim Operating Agreement with Bird and Lime

Bloomington, Ind. - The City of Bloomington has recently seen new mobility options arrive with the introduction of electric scooters.  Bird delivered 100 scooters September 13. Lime delivered 450 scooters September 29, and has reported that riders have taken more than 100,000 trips during the first month of operation.

E-scooters offer residents another way to get around town that can mitigate automobile use and congestion, expand non-auto options, and improve sustainability. Many users find them convenient, affordable, and an attractive new option for mobility. This new mode of transportation also can pose challenges to safety, accessibility, and aesthetics in our city. Area hospitals have witnessed injuries related to scooter riding. Scooter riders on sidewalks or scooters parked inappropriately have threatened other users of sidewalks and paths.

While awaiting new city council legislation, which is expected in coming months, the City administration has been implementing several new measures for successfully integrating these new mobility devices into an existing network of streets, sidewalks, paths, and trails.  These measures, detailed further below, include the following:
 

  • Scooter guidelines were issued October 26 and published at the City website and on social media.

  • Parking enforcement staff and police officers have begun taking action on violations of existing sidewalk and traffic laws by scooter riders.

  • Bird and Lime representatives have been instructed to improve the staging of scooters every morning, to avoid blockage of access to other residents.

  • City officials are negotiating an operating agreement with Lime and Bird, pending a new city ordinance.

  • The City plans to supplement existing signage indicating sidewalk dismount zones throughout the downtown.
     

“Electric scooters represent another innovation that pushes the way we think about transportation beyond cars,” said Mayor John Hamilton.  “Our streets, paths, and sidewalks continue to increase in options for travel; with these options can come added complexity and potential for conflict.  We look to find the right balance that allows Bloomington to enjoy the advantages of these new vehicles while protecting the safety of all.”

Having continuously monitored the use of scooters since their introduction in September, city officials issued guidelines October 26 that apply the Bloomington Municipal Code to scooter use and parking.  In the absence of specific regulations for these vehicles, which were not in wide circulation the last time the code was updated, the guidelines largely apply existing code pertaining to the use of bicycles (including electric bicycles), skateboards, and other coasters to the electric scooters.  

Among other concerns, the guidelines specify where scooters may be operated. Municipal code specifies a downtown dismount area, where bicycles, skateboards, and other coasters may not be ridden on the sidewalk.  Currently indicated by stencils on the sidewalk, this dismount zone may be further identified through the installation of signage at eye level.

Parking enforcement staff have been instructed to stop people riding scooters on sidewalks in the downtown dismount zone and to warn them that they are not allowed on sidewalks in that area. Additionally, police officers have been instructed to take action when scooter riders violate traffic laws, such as running lights and stop signs.

An interim operating agreement setting operating fees, outlining responsibilities to educate riders and the general public and to share usage data with the City, and assigning liability is currently being negotiated with the scooter rental companies doing business in Bloomington.  City officials have established a deadline of Friday, November 9 for the companies to reach an agreement with the City that will allow them to continue operating in Bloomington, pending legislation.

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