Citizens may notice more electric scooters parked in public rights of way or cruising along in bike lanes and on multi-use paths in the months ahead.
City Manager Jess Knusdon said Lake Havasu City was recently approached by electric scooter company Bird, which is exploring the possibility of starting an electric stand up scooter sharing program here in Havasu. The City Council will hold a public hearing today about whether to allow an e-scooter pilot program that would temporarily allow such a scooter sharing system to operate in the city for six months, or until the city adopts an ordinance to regulate scooter sharing systems.
Although the resolution being considered by the council would establish the parameters of a scooter sharing pilot program, Knudson said discussions with Bird are still ongoing. He said details such as where specifically the scooter sharing program would be allowed to operate and when the six-month trial period would begin would need to come back to council for approval if Bird ultimately elects to move forward in Havasu and seeks a temporary operating permit.
Knudson said the e-scooter pilot program resolution being considered today would establish a set of non-negotiable ground rules that any operator would have to follow in order to set up a pilot scooter sharing program.
“We just want to make sure that they as a company can be successful but, more so, the concern for the city is that we want to make sure that our residents don’t see it as a nuisance,” Knudson said. “So what we are trying to get ahead of is examples and situations where you have the scooters laying in the street, blocking traffic, in front of different businesses, or people being disturbed by the scooters in the parks or other areas.”
Under the proposed pilot program parameters only one operator would be allowed in Havasu under the pilot program – whether it is Bird or another similar scooter sharing operator – and they would be limited to deploying 75 scooters within a predefined “pilot program area” within the city. The operator would be required to pick up all scooters by 11 p.m. each night, and could put them out each morning at 6 a.m. or later.
The resolution also spells out what areas the scooters could be ridden in and where they can be parked, as well as where riding and parking is prohibited. The company would be responsible for responding to complaints of improperly parked or inoperable scooters within two hours.
If approved, the operator would pay the city $1,000 to operate under the pilot program, and an additional 10 cents per ride within the city.
Knudson said he doesn’t have any idea whether Havasu is a good fit for a scooter sharing program or not, or how much money 10 cents per ride would amount too for Havasu.
“There are a lot of challenges with the layout of Havasu when it comes to this type of program,” he said. “So time will tell if it is something that would be successful or not. I have no expectation.”
Bird’s Stand Up E-Scooter Sharing Program
In order to use Bird’s scooter sharing system riders must first download the Bird app.
Scooters available to ride are marked on the application’s map and once the rider locates an available scooter they scan the attached QR code or enter a digital code into the app to unlock it and start riding.
The map on the app will show the rider where they are allowed to go and, according to the FAQ’s on the Bird app, if a rider leaves the operational zone the scooter may slow or stop. The rider must then return to the operational zone in order to continue riding, or to end the ride.
The map on the app also marks areas where riding and parking scooters is prohibited.
According to the app users pay per scooter ride, but the rates change from market to market.
The application’s help section also states that scooters themselves may be restricted to slower speeds in certain areas to comply with local regulations. The Bird app’s help section also says there is an in-app tutorial that is accessible when attempting to ride a scooter that includes the local parking regulations. It also says that some markets have a preferred parking incentive in which a customer receives a credit if they leave their scooter in a “preferred parking zone” marked on the map.
Bird’s website says it has E-Scooter Sharing Systems in place in more than 50 U.S. cities including Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale and Tuscon. The website also says the University of Arizona is one of several colleges with a scooter sharing system in place.