Public e-scooters prohibited in downtown Milwaukee due to too much sidewalk riding

NOW: Public e-scooters prohibited in downtown Milwaukee due to too much sidewalk riding

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Effective immediately, Aug. 3, electric scooters participating in the 2021 City of Milwaukee Pilot Study will be prohibited from deploying or allowing new trips in one zone, which encompasses the downtown, near west side, south side and lower east side. This is due to excessive sidewalk riding.

"These scooter companies have to learn that we mean what we say, and that we're serious about public safety," Milwaukee Alderman Robert Bauman said. "We're serious about pedestrian safety."

Scooter riding on the sidewalk is prohibited, and users must obey the rules of the road.

As sidewalk riding was the most common concern in the 2019 Scooter Pilot, DPW followed the resolution language and hired a consultant to conduct sidewalk riding observations. 

A test from the DPW monitored 15 intersections with high ridership for 15 total hours in Zone 1 throughout a two-week period in late June to early July. The results showed that approximately 30% of all trips through these intersections occurred on the sidewalk.

"DPW continues to fully support greater micromobility and multimodal transportation options,” said Commissioner of Public Works Jeff Polenske. “DPW will continue to work with stakeholders, operators, elected officials and the public in hopes of safely resuming new trips and scooter deployment in Zone 1."

The 2021 pilot study runs from May 15 – Nov. 15. Scooter usage has remained popular with over 298,000 rides thus far. Approximately 27% of these trips originated in Zone 1.

Bauman said the city essentially left the situation in the hands of companies like Spin, Lime and Bird to make sure rides were not taking place on sidewalks.

"This is how we have to deal with these huge out of state firms, tech companies," Bauman said. "They don't give a lot of respect to local governments."

Lime sent CBS 58 the statement, "While we are disappointed about the prohibition of scooters in Zone 1, Lime is working closely with the City of Milwaukee to address its concerns. The Lime Milwaukee team is committed to reducing sidewalk riding and we have seen a marked reduction from 2019 to 2021."

Bauman said he does not anticipate the scooters to come back in the summer of 2021.

"That would be the subject of discussions next year, 2022, as to whether we're even going to entertain bringing them back," Bauman said.

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