Baltimore City and the Department of Transportation (DOT) engaged in a 6 ½ month pilot period with both Bird and Lime for the use of dockless vehicles (electric scooters and bicycles), on August 15, 2018, which expires on February 28, 2019. DOT has stated that the purpose of this pilot project is to allow the City to evaluate the potential benefits to the City and feasibility of deploying dockless vehicles in the City and to better understand what rules / regulations / laws are necessary regarding their use.
EXISTING REQUIREMENTS AND RULES
Of note, the agreements with Bird and Lime outline certain regulations, maximum number of dockless vehicles deployed, requirements to ensure vehicles are deployed in neighborhoods with low- and moderate-income residents, and certain fees paid by Bird and Lime to the City. At the end of this pilot period, DOT plans to propose legislation and / or promulgate rules and regulations around the use of these dockless vehicles. Both agreements are specific that:
- dockless vehicles may not be ridden on the sidewalk;
- persons under the age of 16 are required to wear a helmet; and
- scooters and bicycles should be parked courteously- not blocking sidewalks, bus stops, driveways, or doorways.
There are no other laws that I am aware of which prohibit the use of these dockless vehicles, specifically the electronic scooters, in the public right-of-way.
Our office has received dozens of complaints regarding the usage of scooters. I will be the first one to say that there obviously needs to be some type of regulation around the use of dockless scooters and bicycles, as it does create some pretty serious safety concerns, for example:
- riding the wrong direction on one way streets;
- riding on sidewalks;
- juvenile use of scooters in general, especially without wearing helmets;
- more than one individual riding on the same scooter at the same time;
- people walking their dogs with a leash while on a scooter (yes, this is actually happening); and
- placement of scooters (initial placement in the morning and placement after rides are completed).
In the meantime, DOT has established a Dockless Vehicle Committee which has been meeting regularly throughout the pilot period. I have passed along the above feedback to them. In addition, I have asked both vendors to engage in extensive outreach to their rider communities to share safety tips on scooter use as well as provide a mechanism for citizens to report dangerous rider behavior to Bird and Lime. At the end of the pilot period, I will follow-up with more information on Dockless Vehicle Committee’s recommendations and next steps for implementation.
FEEDBACK AND MORE INFORMATION
To submit feedback to the City and DOT, please call 311 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org with “dockless” or “scooters” in the subject line. For specific issues with Bird or Lime dockless vehicles not parked appropriately:
Bird: email at: email@example.com or 866-205-2442
Lime: Call: 1 (888)-LIME-345 | Text: 1 (888)-546-3345
Finally, more information on the pilot program is available here: https://transportation.baltimorecity.gov/bike-baltimore/dockless-vehicles