CHICAGO (CBS) — Within days of Chicago launching an electric scooter pilot program, pictures of riders who crashed or misbehaved blanketed social media. The city slapped several companies with violations.
More than a month into the program, the Morning Insiders wanted to see how scooter companies were doing.
One of the most common problems appears to be people taking the scooters out of the designated pilot program area. They are available in an area bounded by Irving Park Road on the north, the city limits and Harlem Avenue on the west, the Chicago River and Halsted Street on the east, and the river on the south.
Scooters are not allowed to leave that area, but users began taking them out of the zone on the first day of the program last month.
In the first month of the program, the city has received at least 131 complaints about scooters, according to the city’s 311 log.
The Chicago Department of Transportation, which is listed as the “owner” of each complaint, referred questions to the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, which is overseeing the program and issued the permits for all 10 companies operating scooter rentals.
BACP pointed to the scooter companies themselves but wouldn’t say which vendors are the worst offenders.
Two weeks ago, city officials hit seven of the ten vendors with fines for failing to follow the rules.
Cross-referencing complaint locations with the program’s pilot zone map, it appears most rule-breaking riders tend to drop off their scooters just outside the designated boundaries, but one scooter ended up nine miles away at 98th and Loomis.
Scooter fan Matt Cook shrugged off criticism of the newest craze.
“It’s relatively safe, so it doesn’t bother me at all,” he said. “I think they’re pretty environmentally sound. So I think to increase the mobility of the city, because it’s a very congested city, I’m all for it.”
Meantime, Nisha Singh was looking forward to a class about scooter rules and safety in the parking lot of the 15th District police station.
Unfortunately, the class never happened.
“I was pretty frustrated. It was going to be a nice day out. Come out, ride the scooters, have a little bit of food,” he said.
Roy Williams and his grandson also showed up for the class, sponsored by scooter rental company Bird. However, the promises of a food truck, helmets, and more were nowhere to be found.
An organizer showed CBS 2 a text message she said she received from a Chicago Police Department employee, blaming headquarters for canceling the class at the last minute.
“If it was canceled the day before, or two or three days before, something came up, but the day of, I think that’s a little challenging,” Williams said.
“We feel like we don’t have any answers,” Singh said. “It was just like, ‘Eh, we’re not doing it.’ But why?”
Chicago police said headquarters canceled the class after deciding it would be unethical to allow one company over another to use city property during the pilot period. So organizers moved the class to private property.
Lime is hosting a free scooter safety training class Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the parking lot at The Austin African American Business Networking Association at 5820 W. Chicago Ave. You can get more information and register for the class online by clicking here.