CHICAGO (CBS) — The City of Chicago announced it is conducting a pilot program to learn about the demand and impact of electric shared scooters and is accepting applications from vendors who want to be a part of the initiative.
The City’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) and Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced Wednesday that applications are open for vendors to participate in Chicago’s Electric Shared Scooter Pilot Program. The pilot will last from June 15 to Oct. 15.
“The City is committed to improving transportation access, reducing single-occupancy vehicle use, and providing first- and last-mile solutions to support public transit,” CDOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld was quoted as saying in a press released announcing the initiative. “This program is designed to test how scooters as a mobility option can support these goals and to evaluate the impact of the technology on Chicagoans.”
Multiple third-party vendors will be able to participate in the program and operate their fleets in a designated pilot area on the West Side of the city. The area will be bounded by Halsted Street and the Chicago River on the east, Irving Park Road on the north, the city boundary and Harlem Avenue on the west, and the Chicago River on the south.
“This geography, and particularly the priority areas, were selected for the opportunity to pilot scooters in a variety of community types,” BACP Commissioner Rosa Escareno was quoted as saying. “We want to support innovation and new emerging industries- this pilot program will allow the City and its residents to better understand how electric shared scooters impact the city.
According to the city, residents will be able to use a vendor’s smartphone app, website or customer service phone number to locate and unlock the e-scooters. At the end of each ride, the scooters can be parked anywhere, subject to the same parking requirements as a regular private bicycle. No docking station is required.
The scooter program is made possible through an Emerging Business Permit issued by BACP and will include 2,500 scooters in the pilot area, divided evenly among all selected vendors. To minimize sidewalk clutter, scooters must be parked upright — away from street corners, bus stops, and buildings — and with a minimum six-foot clearance on the sidewalk. Vendors will be required to retrieve and move improperly parked electric shared scooters within two hours.
To ensure a safe riding environment, scooters will be prohibited from operating on the sidewalks and will be limited to a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour. The scooters also will be equipped with a warning bell, front and rear lights, hand and foot brakes, and a 24/7 phone number for each vendor. Operating hours for the pilot program will be from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., with the scooters removed from the public space every night by the vendors.
E-scooter companies, like Bird, Lime and Scoot, have launched in hundreds of cities around the world, but have yet to bring their two-wheeled vehicles to Chicago.