SALT LAKE CITY — As the popularity of shared scooters explodes in Salt Lake City, transportation officials are still working to educate riders on the rules of the road.
Bird and Lime launched their scooter services in July. Riders can find scooters on sidewalks around town and sign them out using an app. Once they reach their destination, they end their ride in the app and leave the scooter on the sidewalk for the next customer.
“Honestly, it just gets me where I’ve got to go, really convenient, then I can drop it off. It’s not something I have to carry and keep with me,” said Marcello Martinez.
Martinez and his friend, Michael McGee, used the scooters to go apartment-hunting downtown.
A few blocks over, Eno Augustine-Akpan said she uses them for her morning commute.
“It’s nice to have a nice, refreshing breeze of air, wind in your face and also, it’s just faster. It allows me to sleep in just a little bit longer,” she said.
Salt Lake City Transportation Director Jon Larsen said he sees a lot of good coming from the scooters.
“The easier it is to get around the city, the longer people are going to linger, the more fun they’re going to have and probably the more money they’re going to spend,” Larsen said.
Many of the people using the scooters, though, are riding on the sidewalk.
“It is against the law. When people sign up for the apps, they’re actually told don’t ride on the sidewalk. A lot of people are doing it anyway,” Larsen said.
Larsen said they are focusing their efforts on education and outreach to let users know where they can and cannot ride.
“I don’t think anyone wants cops out there giving tickets to people riding scooters, but that’s something that we’re talking about internally is, ‘What’s the best way to approach this?'” he said.
As the city figures out the details, Larsen said the scooters can meet an important need.
“Having a car once you’re down here, a car is a real hassle. It pollutes and you also have to fuss with parking and that’s where the shared mobility really fills a travel gap,” Larsen said.
For now, the scooters are on a 12-month operating agreement with quarterly to monthly check-ins. The city could draft a permanent ordinance regulating the services that would supersede the operating agreement.