LimeBike rolls out 200 electric scooters as Austin looks at regulation

Austin

On Monday, the company LimeBike released 200 electric scooters onto Austin streets. This comes just weeks after the company “Bird” let out its own fleet of electric scooters.

All you need to do to ride a scooter is download the app, scan a code on the scooter and take off.

As more companies launch electric scooter rentals, the city of Austin is feverishly looking at how to manage the new dockless transportation. A big concern primarily is if these scooters will cause an unsafe obstruction to the public.

The city is holding several public meetings to get residents’ opinions on whether or not they like these dockless transportation options. Monday evening was the first meeting since the electric scooters were introduced. Only one person showed up to the meeting.

Many Austinites that KXAN spoke with love the scooters, calling them easy, fun and a perfect way to get around campus or downtown. Most riders treated the scooters like bikes, taking the bike lane to get around.

State law says motor-assisted scooters can go where bikes are allowed. But, bikes are not allowed on sidewalks in Austin’s Central Business District.

As KXAN was downtown, we saw some scooter riders on the streets and some even drove straight through stop signs. 

“If I was, like, a bystander just walking, I’d probably be a little nervous. These go up to like 18, 15 miles per hour. That’s pretty fast, especially if you’re just walking. If you’re not careful you could definitely injure someone,” Kevin Gwen, a student at the University of Texas, tells KXAN.

Both Bird and LimeBike say riders must be over 18, have a drivers license and follow traffic rules. Only one rider is allowed at a time and a helmet is required. When dropping the bike off, riders are asked to leave them in a public spot that’s out of the way of pedestrians but easy to access.

The Austin Police Department says it doesn’t believe officers have written any tickets to scooter riders. Officers do ask scooter riders to wear highly-visible, brightly-colored and reflective clothing to help make sure drivers can see the riders.

However, this month, the city has impounded 55 scooters that belong to Bird because the scooters were being left behind in the city’s right of way for more than 48 hours.

If you’re worried about having a helmet when riding, LimeBike offers free helmets if your ride cost you more than $10. Bird offers free helmets as well, but shipping cost $1.

If you would like to voice your opinion, the city’s transportation department will host the following forums:

  • Sat., April 21 – 12 p.m., Earth Day ATX, Huston-Tillotson University, 900 Chicon St.
  • Fri., April 27 – 9 a.m.-12 p.m., Cultural Arts Training Room 201, E. 2nd St., Suite A
  • Sat., April 28 – 2:30-4 p.m., Twin Oaks Library, 1800 South 5th St.

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