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2nd Scooter Pilot Will Start In August, City Says

About 10,000 scooters will be deployed throughout Chicago. Officials hope they can use data and feedback from this second pilot to determine if scooters stay in Chicago.

Electric scooters could hit downtown streets in the spring if a proposal passes in the City Council Thursday.
Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University.
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CHICAGO — The city’s second scooter pilot is just weeks away.

The city will announce what three companies will be allowed to participate in the pilot in early August, “with a launch of the pilot shortly thereafter,” said Mike Claffey, a Department of Transportation spokesman, in an email.

Four companies applied to be a part of the pilot. Only companies that were part of the first pilot last year were allowed to submit proposals.

Officials hope they can use data and feedback from this second pilot to determine if scooters stay in Chicago.

“The city has not yet decided if scooters make sense as a permanent part of Chicago’s transportation system,” Claffey said in a statement. “If and when we do decide to make scooters a permanent mode of transportation in Chicago, we will work through a robust public process, in partnership with City Council.

“The goal of this second pilot is to apply lessons learned from the first pilot and focus on key issues of equity, parking solutions and safety for both users and non-users which are especially important given the unprecedented COVID-19 global pandemic.”

Once the pilot launches, the three companies will be allowed to deploy a total of about 10,000 scooters throughout the city — a significant change from the last pilot, when there were half as many scooters and they were confined to the Northwest and West sides of the city.

The city will also allow vendors to leave scooters out at night. Last time, vendors had to pick them up at night and re-deploy them in the morning.

There will still be some restrictions, though: People will only be able to ride scooters 5 a.m.-10 p.m., and they won’t be usable on the Lakefront Trail, the 606 or Downtown.

Vendors will have to send half their scooters to “priority areas” on the South and West sides at 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. to ensure they’re distributed equitably, according to the Department of Transportation.

Scooters will also need to have lock-technology, meaning riders will have to lock them to a bike rack or other object to end their trip.

And vendors will have to require new riders to take an in-app safety quiz and other education, will have to host educational events and will have to host helmet giveaways, the city said.

The city’s first pilot for scooters in 2019 ended with “mixed results,” which is why officials opted for a second one.

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.

A map of scooter boundaries for this pilot:

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