Cleveland to roll out electric scooters around the city

Ryan Yoo, Director of Design

The City of Cleveland has recently announced that it approved a measure to roll out electric scooters across the city.

In early June, the Cleveland City Council unanimously approved a measure that would allow electric scooter vendors—such as Bird and Lime—to set up scooter stands in target areas including University Circle as part of a six-month pilot project to test new policies regulating the use of these scooters.

The measure contains regulations that aim to ensure that the scooters are used in a safe manner. Proposed regulations include requiring that the rider be at least 18 years old to rent a scooter and that scooters and bikes must not be parked on sidewalks in a way that interferes with pedestrian flow.

The city announced in early August that four companies are approved to start renting out electric scooters and bicycles. The companies are estimated to be able to be able to start renting as early as Aug. 20. 

This initiative comes after Bird dropped off 100 scooters in Cleveland in August 2018. However, the company paused its operations in Cleveland two weeks later after officials ordered the company to remove their scooters from the streets.

Electric scooter use on university campuses has skyrocketed around the country. Because of this, many universities have scrambled to enact policies restricting the use of such vehicles on campus grounds, often citing safety concerns. 

Cleveland State University (CSU) banned the use of motorized scooters on campus property back in August when the initiative was first introduced. CSU also formally requested that all Bird scooters be immediately removed from campus.

In an email to students, faculty and staff, Chief Financial Officer Stephanie McHenry wrote: “Given the safety issues with these rentals, numerous cities across the country, including Cleveland, have banned their use and cautioned individuals not to utilize them on sidewalks and city streets. Our number one concern is your safety. Please use your best judgement to decide whether to ride these scooters.”

Other universities have embraced the new electric scooter movement. In 2018, the University of Minnesota started an initiative in collaboration with Bird and Lime that would allow for the companies to drop 50 scooters at various locations determined by the University of Minnesota’s transportation officials. The university would also charge a fee to deploy the scooters on campus.

The move came after Bird and Lime began operations in the nearby city of Minneapolis, and the university acknowledged that the scooters would likely end up on campus. The aim was not to keep scooters away from campus, but rather to develop policies for scooter use before they showed up.

Likewise, Case Western Reserve University is also preparing for the arrival of electric scooters on campus. If scooters are introduced in University Circle, they will inevitably end up on campus grounds.

The Division of Public Safety, which oversees the police and security services on campus, has not decided whether to allow or ban scooters on campus. The campus administration plans on working further with the community in order to decide the best course of action and the appropriate policies to implement.

“We’re evaluating the benefits and risks, and [are] in the process of talking with the relevant stakeholders about what policies should be governing their use on campus, ” said Frank Demes, executive director for the Division of Public Safety. “We are working with the committee and stakeholders to review established best practices at other institutions and municipalities,” continued Demes.

Despite many schools regulating the use of scooters, many riders often choose to ignore policies that are made to protect not only themselves, but other pedestrians and drivers. For instance, scooterists often leave their scooters strewn across campus, causing a safety hazard for pedestrians and bikers.

The Division of Public Safety plans on curbing misuse by educating students and by programming the scooters in a manner that forces students to follow the implemented policies. 

“We believe strong community policing initiatives, coupled with outreach and educational initiatives, are the most effective way to improve personal safety. Use of scooters may be regulated through system programming and built-in restrictions,” added Demes.

The legislation still needs to be approved by Mayor Frank Jackson. If approved, the legislation can immediately go into effect.