HUMBOLDT PARK — Too intimidated to join the electric scooter movement in Chicago?
The scooter company has held a dozen of the sessions so far, many of them on the city’s West Side, and it plans to hold more as the pilot continues.
At each session, Lime representatives teach first-time scooter riders the basics: how to position your feet (in an upside down T), how to use the throttle and what not to do while riding (no cell phones). Then the group of first-time riders take the scooters for a spin on a small course.
The last session, held Wednesday afternoon in a parking lot at Pulaski Road and North Avenue in Humboldt Park, was a partnership with Business Technology Education Center, or BTEC, a Humboldt Park-based training center focused on teaching disenfranchised youth science, technology, engineering, arts and math skills.
BTEC student Cilibriel Gavin participated in Wednesday’s Humboldt Park session.
Gavin, who lives in Woodlawn on the city’s South Side, said before the session she didn’t know the first thing about operating an electric scooter.
“I stood in front of it and didn’t really know what to do with it, how to start it or anything,” she said.
The session gave the 18-year-old the tools and the confidence to jump on a Lime scooter should she encounter one.
“I didn’t expect them to go as fast as they did. It’s pretty fast,” she said.
Woodlawn is not included in the pilot program, but Gavin said she’d “most definitely” welcome the scooters in her neighborhood.
“It beats taking the bus,” she said.
A Lime spokesman said the company has trained more than 800 people on safety since the start of the pilot. The sessions are independent of the city, though the city is encouraging all of the scooter companies to teach safety.
“They know how to drive with their feet, but they don’t know how to drive with their hands,” Lime’s expansion manager Cesar Cardona said of the need for scooter safety training sessions.
About 20 people showed up to Wednesday’s session, which lasted more than three hours, according to Cardona. At the end of the session, the only people participating were affiliated with Lime or BTEC.
The city’s department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection said the first month of the pilot saw a total of 256,448 rides, 126 calls to 311 and 235 feedback emails.
The city is encouraging scooter riders to reach out with feedback and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So far, the feedback has been mixed, with 43 percent positive emails, 46 percent negative emails and 11 percent neutral, the city department said.
Last week, the city stipulated that scooter companies must affix an instructional safety tag to each scooter, urging riders not to ride or park on the sidewalk.
The city is also holding its own safety training sessions with scooter companies. The next session is with the company Gruv and is set for 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. Aug. 13 at 5820 W. Chicago Ave.
The city won’t say how many people have been injured riding scooters since the start of the pilot in mid-June.
Do stories like this matter to you? Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.