CINCINNATI — E-scooters will remain in Cincinnati, at least for now.
The city is giving Bird and Lime 90 days to address several safety concerns, as it works to negotiate a new contract with both companies. If the companies do not address the issues, council could vote to ban them from the city.
“I think today was a wake up call for both Bird and Lime,” said council member Scotty Johnson. “I talked about it along with the city manager, that if they don’t come to the tables the way that the city of Cincinnati and those that come here are safe, then we may have to bail out on them.”
Issues include minors riding the scooters, which are intended for those 18 and older, people riding on the sidewalks as opposed to the streets, riders using the scooters past curfew, and people riding the scooters while committing criminal activity.
“The scooters are supposed to be street vehicles, it does say use on these street,” said Beverly Thomas, who lives downtown. “They’re not being used on the street as much as they are on the sidewalks. They do not follow any kind of rules of public courtesy. They zip out on people.”
Thomas said the scooters are dangerous to both the people riding them and pedestrians on the street.
“This can be a huge issue, especially when I’m walking the dog,” she said. “Many of (the riders) are children, they are below the age to know how to drive. They do not understand how to operate the scooters, no one is teaching them or showing them, nor should they.”
Representatives from both Lime and Bird said they can address the issues raised.
For example, new geo-technology can be used to prevent the scooters from being used on sidewalks. The companies will need data points from the city in order to do that. And, enhanced user ID can be implemented to prevent children from using the scooters. Both companies also said incentives for parking the scooters properly have helped prevent the scooters from being left in the middle of the sidewalk in other cities like Cleveland.
In a statement, Phil Jones, Senior Director of Government Relations for Lime said, “Safety comes first and always for Lime. We are working diligently to address concerns raised by the Department of Transportation and Engineering so e-scooters can continue to be a resource for Cincinnati residents looking for affordable and sustainable alternatives to cars. We are taking a range of education and enforcement measures to curb poor riding and parking behavior so that a small number of users do not jeopardize the benefits of the program for the vast majority of responsible riders."
Likewise, Vaugn Roland, Government Partnerships Lead at Bird said, “Shared e-scooters are a critical, eco-friendly transportation alternative for many Cincinnati residents including those who rely on the service to get home from work in the evening, those who don’t own a car and those who don’t feel safe on public transit.”
“Bird is working with the city to address their concerns – we’ve already turned on an ID scan feature to verify riders are 18 or older and turned off the group ride feature – to prevent policy decisions with sweeping repercussions for many. We also plan to bring our newest parking technology powered by Google, Bird Visual Parking Systems, which will enable Bird to geo-localize parked scooters with pinpoint accuracy”, he continued.
Thomas said she would be okay with the scooters, if they are regulated properly.
“I know people that use the scooters to get back and forth to work. They are using them properly and I would hate for those people not to have access to scooters. But, we do not need children riding scooters, we do not need people who do not know how to operate them driving them,” she said.
Right now, scooters are under a 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. curfew.