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Electric scooter vendors flagged for operating outside city’s rigid rules

Anyone who lives and works in Chicago has seen the evidence of electric scooters being ridden illegally on sidewalks, outside the designated zone and being parked in violation of the city’s rigid rules. On Friday, there was even more proof: fourteen citations against seven of the ten companies chosen by Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration to run a four-month, 2,500 electric scooter pilot.

In this file photo taken on July 13, 2018 shared electric scooters are parked on a street in Santa Monica, California.
In this file photo taken on July 13, 2018 shared electric scooters are parked on a street in Santa Monica, California.
Getty

Anyone who lives and works in Chicago has seen the evidence of electric scooters being ridden illegally on sidewalks, outside the designated area and being parked in violation of the city’s rigid rules.

On Friday, there was even more proof: fourteen citations against seven of the ten companies chosen by Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration to run a four-month, 2,500 electric scooter pilot program.

The tickets all carry a maximum fine of $1,000.

Bird was cited for operating outside the city’s designated zone.

Wheels was slapped for scooter speeding in excess of the 15 mph speed limit.

Bolt and gruv were ticketed for failing to enforce the requirement for post-ride photos to make certain scooters are parked correctly.

Sherpa and gruv failed to respond to complaints within two hours. Spin and Wheels got hit for not responding to complaints around-the-clock. And Bird and Sherpa were cited for failing to affix an educational brochure to scooters.

Bird, Bolt, JUMP and Sherpa were also cited last month for failing to rebalance scooters properly each morning into two “priority areas” designated by the city.

Lime, Lyft and VeoRide have, so far, avoided citations in a popular program that provided 170,000 rides during its first three weeks.

“This is just the first step in holding these companies responsible to meeting our strict pilot terms,” Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Rosa Escareno was quoted as saying in a news release.

“Any vendor that continues to fail to adhere to the pilot’s terms will be subject to permit suspension or revocation.”

Ald. Walter Burnett (27th), chairman of the City Council’s Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety, said electric scooters provide a “new mobility option,” but he’s happy to see the city “holding vendors accountable to the strict terms” established before the experiment began.

Participating contractors were each granted 250 scooters to operate within a 50-square mile test area bounded by Halsted and the Chicago River on the east; Irving Park Road on the north; Harlem and the city limits on the west and the Chicago River on the south.

The city established two priority areas within the pilot zone, where at least 25% of scooters must be placed every morning.

To minimize sidewalk clutter, scooters must be parked “upright; away from street corners, bus stops, and buildings; and with a minimum six-foot clearance on the sidewalk,” the city said.

Designated vendors were required to “retrieve and move improperly parked electric shared scooters within two hours.”

To maximize public safety, scooters were banned from sidewalks, required to travel at speeds no greater than 15 miles-an-hour and confined to the hours of 5 a.m. and 10 p.m.

As additional safety features, scooters must be “equipped with a warning bell; front and rear lights’ hand and foot brakes, and a 24/7 phone number for each vendor.”

Vendors are required to remove scooters from the public way every night and provide the city with “real-time and continuous data on operations, ridership, and safety.”