If you’ve stepped outside for more than two seconds since July 23, you’ve probably seen those Lime e-scooters. (If you’ve looked at the internet for more than two seconds since July 23, you’ve probably read 8,000,000 words about those Lime e-scooters, too, but that’s another story.) Following a false start from Bird in the summer of 2018 and the subsequent creation of citywide e-scooter pilot program, Lime legally entered the Milwaukee market this summer and dumped 500 scooters around the city. And people have been riding them! According to Lime, more than 53,000 trips have been logged! The scooters are fine, they’re kind of fun, and, no matter how you cut it, they’re hopelessly dorky.
Now, less than two weeks after Mayor Tom Barrett announced a “pause” in the pilot program, the city has ended that “pause” and opened the floodgates to other e-scooter companies. According to Urban Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, both Bird and newcomer Spin are slated to dump their e-scooters on Milwaukee streets sometime this week. Each company (including Lime) will be allowed a fleet of 350, bringing the total number of electric rental scooters junking up Milwaukee streets…we mean providing modern Milwaukeeans with a welcome plethora of urban-friendly “micromobility” options…to 1,050. Neat!
“Each operator’s allowed fleet plan has been scaled back to ensure the number of scooters in circulation are manageable and being used properly,” Commissioner of Public Works Jeff Polenske said in a weekend press release. “We will frequently assess the fleet size and determine if adjustments need to be made.”
So what about the teeming hordes of e-scooter riders flagrantly breaking the “DON’T RIDE ON THE SIDEWALKS” rule? The JS offers this tidbit…
Milwaukee’s e-scooter fleet has sparked pedestrian complaints that users are not riding on the streets as intended. And an analysis by the city appears to support that. Over an eight-hour period, 17% of riders observed in the Third Ward, east side and downtown data were not riding on the street, according to the Department of Public Works.
…while Urban Milwaukee gives the numbers a more positive spin…
The announcement comes after the Department of Public Works (DPW) said it conducted an eight-hour-long survey of scooter users on the East Side, Historic Third Ward and Downtown. The study found that 83 percent of observed trips were taking place in the street as required by law. The DPW press release did not provide compliance statistics for bicycles and motor vehicles.
(A slow clap for the “What about cars that break that law, man?” zinger.)
So yeah, if you’re a fan of e-scooters, rejoice. There are soon going to more than 1,000 of the things at your disposal! And if you’re not a fan, go ahead and rejoice, too. Because winter!