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Scooter Season Is Over For Now — But Will They Return? Group Says They Should (But With Docks This Time)

The Active Transportation Alliance thinks scooters should stay — but docked and kept off urban trails and out of Downtown.

Christian Williams, an employee of Lime, deploys scooters in Humboldt Park.
Hannah Alani/Block Club Chicago
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DOWNTOWN — Chicagoans have been taking a lot of scooter rides in recent months — but they’ll be removed from the streets Tuesday. For now, at least.

Scooters, which flooded city streets beginning in June, will be removed from the sidewalks at midnight. Then, the city will review feedback and data on the program — including reports of injuries caused by the scooters — and decide if Chicago will keep them around.

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In all, 772,450 scooter rides were reported during the pilot as of Oct. 6, said Isaac Reichman, a spokesman for Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, and 39 citations were given to nine companies.

More than 7,300 people also took the city’s survey to give feedback on the pilot.

The Active Transportation Alliance, a group dedicated to making non-car travel safer for Chicagoans, suggested the city should keep scooters but require them to be parked in docks or painted-off sections or locked to racks.

A survey done by Active Trans showed a majority of its respondents wanted to develop a long-term scooter program, and participants at a community roundtable viewed the scooters “as a generally affordable and fun way to get around,” according to the group.

“When managed well, scooter sharing can be a fun, relatively affordable transportation option in communities that lack convenient access to everyday destinations,” Active Trans wrote in its scooter report.

But safety was chief among the concerns of Active Trans’ survey respondents, and the organization said the scooters were not as safe as walking, biking or taking public transit and “provide limited benefit to community health.”

Active Trans noted the scooters do more harm to the environment than walking, biking or bus and train trips, though they are more sustainable than cars.

To offset the sustainability drawbacks, Active Trans suggested a portion of revenue from scooter use could go to a fund to support infrastructure for bicyclists and pedestrians. The money could be used to build more bike lanes, for example, the group said.

The group also suggested the city keep scooters out of the Downtown area, away from urban trails and “maintain a reasonable cap,” saying “residents and community leaders didn’t tell us they struggled to find a scooter.”

“Making more scooters available per resident could exacerbate the negative impacts,” Active Trans wrote.

There will be crews hard at work picking up scooters late Tuesday, but if you do spot one left behind, it probably won’t work — and could be impounded by the city, Reichman said.

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