Scooters Could Return To Cleveland Under New Rules

A bird dockless electric scooter parked on Playhouse Square in Cleveland.
A bird dockless electric scooter parked on Playhouse Square in Cleveland. [Adrian Ma / ideastream]

Scooter riders may again roll through Cleveland thanks to legislation approved by city council Monday.

Companies will have to obtain permits before deploying shareable scooters on city sidewalks under the new ordinance. Cuyahoga County will also issue licenses to scooter companies under separate legislation passed by the county council in late April.

“This is an important part to move this city into the future when it comes to new mobility options,” said the measure’s main sponsor, Councilman Kerry McCormack. “So that more and more people can find options of getting out of their cars. We know that cars are the most dangerous form of mobility.”

The twin measures from the city and county set the stage for dockless scooter operators to return to Cleveland. Last August, Bird dropped 100 scooters on city sidewalks, only to have officials demand their removal. Less than two weeks later, the company announced it would pause operations in the city.

Companies like Bird and Lime have rolled out scooter systems in cities around the country in recent years. Unlike many bike-sharing programs, scooter riders do not need to return the scooters to fixed stations.

Cleveland’s rules set a scooter speed limit of 12 miles per hour and require users to ride in the street in business districts.

Riders can park the devices in “furniture zones” between sidewalks and the curb. The city will be able to seize scooters blocking public rights-of-way if vendors fail to move them.

The city also requires vendors to remove scooters at 7 p.m., returning the devices to designated areas in the morning, city Chief of Sustainability Matt Gray told council Monday.

Cuyahoga County plans to sign off on licensing guidelines later this month, with the goal of awarding licenses later this summer, according to county Sustainability Director Mike Foley. The county sustainability department could also work with municipalities to expand scooter programs into the suburbs.

The city will collect a permit application fee from companies, while the county will charge a $5,000 operating fee. Companies will also pay 15 cents per trip to cities with scooter programs, according to a draft of the county’s rules.

Cleveland plans to start the program with a six-month demonstration period before offering yearlong permits to vendors.

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