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Next Scooter Pilot Could Have Lockable Scooters — And Fewer Companies Participating

The second pilot will last about four months and be held during warmer months this summer.

Christian Williams, an employee of Lime, deploys scooters in Austin.
Hannah Alani/Block Club Chicago
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DOWNTOWN — The city’s next scooter pilot is likely coming this summer — but it’ll look much different than the first.

The city announced there’d be a second pilot after the first one in 2019 ended with “mixed results.” Officials revealed more details during an advisory council meeting last week, saying they hope to whittle down the number of companies participating and make changes to the scooters.

The second pilot will last about four months and be held during warmer months this summer, though officials haven’t finalized start and end dates, according to the Department of Transportation.

During the first pilot, which ran June to October, there were 10 companies that participated. The city plans to limit this pilot to about three companies.

Only the 10 companies that participated in the first scooter pilot will be eligible for the second, and the city will reduce participants from that list using “objective criteria,” a Department of Transportation spokesman said. What those criteria will be has yet to be determined.

Limiting the number of companies that can participate in the pilot will make it “more manageable,” the spokesman said.

The city also wants to test new “strategies, technologies and equipment to improve safety and comfort for both riders and non-riders,” according to a presentation shown during the meeting last week.

As part of that, officials are working with the scooter companies to see if they can provide scooters with a lock-to capability, hoping that would “reduce street clutter,” according to the presentation. The spokesman said the city is “strongly considering requiring it.”

The locks would be cable-like devises that could be used with the scooters or shared bikes to attach them to a bike rack.

The scooter companies will also be required to engage with communities and broaden the access of their scooters for people who don’t use smartphones, according to the presentation.

The city is still determining where the scooters will be usable; during last year’s pilot, they were confined to the West and Northwest sides.

Survey results and data from 2019’s scooter pilot showed more than 820,000 rides were taken during the four-month pilot.

But Chicagoans were divided over the scooters, with some saying they were a hazard or nuisance while other said they provided a more environmentally-friendly and convenient way of traveling small distances.

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