The city wants to make scooters a permanent feature in downtown Lincoln — and beyond.
After a 15-month pilot program where 25,030 people rode scooters and made a total of 91,400 trips, Lincoln Transportation and Utilities officials will ask the City Council to modify its ordinances to set out rules for the so-called “shared mobility devices,” as well as rules specifically for privately owned electric scooters.
City officials would like to increase the area of its scooter program to include residential areas south and east of downtown, with the hopes of increasing use by commuters.
The pilot program began Sept 1, 2020 — right in the middle of the pandemic — so city officials decided to extend it to the end of 2021. The city contracted with two scooter vendors to rent electric scooters to be ridden on downtown streets, but not sidewalks.
“We believe this program is a perfect complement to our goal of connecting the public to work, school, family and friends," said LTU Director Liz Elliott. “We believe that we can make the program even more robust and reach even more members of our community.”
Roberto Partida, who works with LTU on the scooter program and briefed the council Monday, said use of the scooters during the pilot program shows there’s a demand.
A few other details from the final report of the program:
* The most popular times for people to rent scooters is on Saturdays and evenings from 6-9 p.m.
* The average distance scooter riders made in one trip was just less than a mile and took an average of 12 minutes and 11 seconds.
* The city made $13,710 in ride fees.
* A survey of scooter users showed 21% of trips happened in lieu of a car ride. That means scooters replaced 26,891 miles that would have been driven in a car, which is equivalent to making 224 round trips from Omaha to Lincoln. It saved 10.7 metric tons of CO2 emissions.
* The two companies running the scooter pilot program received a total of nine compliance warnings for operating when they weren’t supposed.
Partida spent 15 hours observing scooter usage at several spots downtown and found that 70% of users rode on the street; 30% on the sidewalk; and just 1.3% parked improperly — a low number, because the city had increased designated scooter parking, he said.
Of the 146 complaints about scooters, 41% were for improperly parked scooters and 16% for sidewalk violations.
A survey of users found 59% were “very supportive” of the program, 51% tried scooters because they were curious, 45% felt safe or very safe while riding, 88% were familiar with local operating and parking rules, and 79% were aware riding on the sidewalk is prohibited.
Police got just four medical calls relating to accidents — where riders fell, ran into a pedestrian, hit a parked car and hit a moving car.
If the council passes the ordinance changes in the coming weeks, the city will issue another “request for qualifications” for up to two vendors to run the program.
LTU officials hope to make users more aware of low-income discount programs, look for more designated parking areas and find ways to increase the number of riders who use scooters in lieu of cars.
At some point, LTU officials may consider a program to allow scooters for football fans to get from designated parking locations to the stadium using specific routes, according to recommendations in the final report.