CHICAGO (CBS)– More than 2,000 scooters are about to hit the streets of Chicago and you will be able to rent them starting Saturday. Ten companies will launch their scooters on the West Side as part of a pilot program and, according to the city, those companies–and their customers–will have to play by the rules.
City officials say, if things go wrong, they can suspend or revoke the license for any of the 10 vendors during the four-month pilot program.
So what are the rules?
For one, you have to keep the scooters in a designated zone 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.
“If the rider rides it across the bridge to get into downtown, the scooter actually will slow down and shut down at the end,” VeoRide CEO Candice Xie said.
City leaders say you cannot ride the scooters on the sidewalk. You can only ride them on the street or bike lanes, and only from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Riders can park them throughout the zone but, according to the city, they must be parked upright with at least six feet of clearance for people to get by.
VeoRide users must take a picture to end their ride and charges, but the app can’t always tell if it’s parked correctly.
“We are working on that to improve the accuracy. Even though we cannot get it 100% accurate, we are working on it to get it in that direction,” Xie said.
Xie said her employees will work constantly to ensure that no scooters remain poorly parked.
According to the city, poorly parked scooters must be corrected within two hours. City officials say they can enforce penalties if companies do not comply with the rules.
VeoRide and other scooter companies recommend riders wear helmets.
E-scooters have now launched in cities across the country. In Indianapolis, emergency room doctors say they are treating injuries from scooter riders ranging from bruises to broken bones and concussions.
“We are seeing them routinely,” Scott Hilliard of IU Health Methodist Hospital said. “Three and four and five times a week, of varying injuries.”
Hilliard said many of those patients were not wearing helmets–despite recommendations to do so from the scooter companies.
Xie said VeoRide builds their own scooters. She said they implement wide tires and strong bases on their scooters in an effort to decrease the risk of someone wiping out after hitting a rough surface.
VeoRide and other scooter companies have rider agreements stating that the company is not liable for any injuries. However, Xie said liability can vary case-by-case.
“We focus a lot on how to prevent those things from happening,” Xie said. “But if incident or injury happens, we will connect with the police department, create a police report and cross that with a standard insurance policy.”
The city confirmed Chicago police are prepared to investigate any scooter-related accidents.
Each company in the pilot program is required to have insurance that can cover at least $5 million per incident.
If all goes well, the city will decide how or if to extend the idea.