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The Scooters Are Coming Back: After Pilot Program Ends In ‘Mixed Results,’ City Will Try Again

Approximately 820,000 rides were taken during the pilot program that ran from June to October, officials said.

JUMP offered scooters during the pilot program.
JUMP Scooters
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DOWNTOWN — Scooters will return to Chicago’s streets this summer — but only as part of a second pilot program after city officials concluded that the first test run of the two-wheelers ended with “mixed results.”

Approximately 820,000 rides were taken during the pilot program that ran from June to October on the West and Northwest sides of the city, according to the final evaluation of the pilot program from the city and the Center for Neighborhood Technology. Ten companies scattered 250 dockless scooters across a roughly 50-square-mile area.

The e-scooter program holds promise, but additional review is needed to determine how to hold “vendors accountable, keep Chicagoans safe and improve citywide mobility,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday.

“While the initial pilot revealed mixed results, my team will continue to bring community members and all stakeholders to the table to identify improved guidelines and gauge if the scooter program is a viable long-term solution,” Lightfoot said.

Rosa Escareño, Business Affairs and Consumer Protection commissioner, said the second pilot program was needed because while the first test run “was successful,” “not everything was perfect.”

The second pilot will be designed with the help of community groups and transportation organizations to address a number of issues, including concerns about “equity,” Escareño said.

The 2020 pilot program will also focus on issues of sidewalk clutter and company compliance.

A majority of the 10 companies that participated in the 2019 pilot were cited by the city for violating the city’s rules, officials said.

Scooter advocates said they were hopeful the pilot program would give commuters an environmentally friendly option to reach buses, trains and Divvy bicycles.

But the results of the 2019 pilot were inconclusive on that central question, according to the evaluation.

Scooter ridership was concentrated in West Loop and along the CTA Blue Line, but it is unclear whether scooter trips supplemented train or bus trips. Approximately 34 percent of online survey respondents told officials they used scooters to go to or from public transit.

The city’s evaluation of the scooters also found:

  • 192 people were injured while riding scooters during the pilot program.
  • Most rides took place during the evening rush period on weekdays and between 3 and 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

The full evaluation of the 2019 scooter pilot program is online.