CLEVELAND, Ohio – Electric scooters might return to Cleveland streets, but first the city wants to establish rules for regulating the businesses that rent them and the people who operate them.
Cleveland intends to establish rules that will govern dockless shared-use bicycles and scooter systems, Mayor Frank Jackson’s administration said Wednesday in a statement. After that, the city will collect competitive bids from operators seeking permission to do business in the city.
“Dockless bicycle and scooter systems raise zoning, safety, and right-of-way use issues,” the city said. “The city of Cleveland is reviewing these issues to establish a framework for the operation of these systems in our city. Based on our review, we then will engage in an open and competitive process to allow the city to identify the best operator to serve the city’s market.”
The statement, in response to an inquiry by cleveland.com, comes 10 days after the city ordered Bird, a California-based scooter rental company, to remove dozens of scooters from city sidewalks
Bird caused a stir Aug. 10, when it dropped dozens of the electric scooters downtown and in several neighborhoods without warning. The scooters are unlocked via an app and cost 15 cents per minute to use.
The scooters can go 15 miles on a single charge. Their appearance has raised questions about safety.
Coincidentally, a 21-year-old woman from Cleveland Heights was killed Friday when she was riding an electric scooter on East Ninth Street and rammed from behind by a motorist. The motorist, Scott McHugh of Vermilion, is charged with vehicular homicide.
Cleveland objected immediately when Bird arrived and placed scooters in public rights of way.
“We have seen these scooters parked unattended on the sidewalks of the city,” Law Director Barbara Langhenry said in a message to the company. “Please be aware that Bird Rides, its agents, or customers, are not permitted to place property on the sidewalks of the city without obtaining a permit. “There are no permits for the scooters placed throughout the City.
“We believe that you would agree that the placement of unattended, commercial, electric scooters on City sidewalks raises important safety issues that need to be fully explored and properly addressed with the city,” Langhenry continued.
Bird said Tuesday it would temporarily remove its scooters from Cleveland in compliance with the city’s order.
A spokeswoman for Bird on Wednesday cited a previous statement indicating they hope something can be worked out with Cleveland.
“We have had productive conversations with Councilman Kerry McCormack and community members, and are hopeful that we will be able to collaborate with the city on their permitting process so that Bird can be a reliable, affordable, and environmentally friendly transportation option for the community,” the company said.
McCormack, who represents downtown Cleveland, Ohio City and Tremont (all areas where the scooters appeared), said Tuesday city leaders should keep an open mind and be proactive about Cleveland’s transportation system.
“We need more modes of transportation that connect areas of Cleveland, not less,” McCormack said. “As a community, we need to get better about building multi-modal transportation.”
A spokesman for the mayor said Wednesday that the city has set no timetable for completing its review.
The statement indicates that the city also is considering dockless ride-sharing operations that involve bicycles.