Boise & Garden City

Boise may triple number of e-scooters as a third company applies to operate here

How to ride Lime electric scooters

Lime helps redefine the first and last mile transportation through the use of dockless electric scooters. Watch how to use the new method of transportation.
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Lime helps redefine the first and last mile transportation through the use of dockless electric scooters. Watch how to use the new method of transportation.

When Lauren Berry showed up for work at The Handlebar at 1519 W. Main St. on Jan. 11, she noticed a Bird perched in a tree nearby.

A Bird e-scooter, that is.

Most Bird-spotters don’t ever come across such an exotic find. Before the e-scooters landed on Boise’s streets in October, the City Council worked with operators to shape regulations that would ensure that the Birds, and vehicles from a second operator, Lime, flock together neatly on street corners without flooding the market with scooters.

Certainly, the vehicles have attracted their share of mischief. In November, a man dressed as a dinosaur fell off a scooter and injured a 59-year-old woman in a crosswalk, Boise Weekly reported. At a City Council workshop Tuesday, city staff reported that someone had dumped a scooter in the Boise River. The city has received about 75 complaints regarding the scooters, including one concerning riders “drawing pictures” in the snow near the Clearwater Building at 777 W. Main St.

But other than that, the rollout has gone smoothly thanks to the city’s pre-planning, said Craig Croner, Boise’s administrative services manager.

At the workshop, the Boise City Council voted to draft an ordinance amendment that would allow scooter companies to expand their fleets from 250 scooters each to 500. The measure was proposed by Scot Ludwig, and supported by TJ Thomson, Holli Woodings, and Council President Lauren McLean.

The council will vote in a future meeting on whether to adopt the amendment, but it could significantly increase the number of scooters on the streets. Croner noted that Ford Motor Co.’s Spin Scooters applied with the city to launch operations in Boise, which would mean a third scooter company in the mix. If the amendment passes, that means that the 500 scooters currently on the streets could expand to 1,500.

That number could fluctuate, though. Current regulations require scooter companies to maintain an average of two rides per scooter per day. That means on snowy or particularly cold days, Bird and Lime take scooters off the street to make sure they’re not flooding the market — or the sidewalks — with unused vehicles.

Mayor David Bieter advocated a more cautious approach. “I would like to see more information,” he said. “This seems like a little bit much a little too soon.”

Boise’s e-scooter program has outperformed Croner’s expectations. In the last three months, Boise’s 35,758 riders have logged 118,779 miles over 114,254 total rides.

“If you would have asked me three months ago how much this program would be utilized, I would have laughed,” Croner said.

At the moment, Boise is the only Idaho city to license the scooter companies. In September, Lime launched its scooter-sharing program in Meridian, but within just a few days the city asked them to pull the scooters off the street.

Croner said that Boise has worked alongside Meridian to help them draft their own ordinance that would regulate the companies’ operations. Meridian’s City Council is slated to consider a draft of the ordinance sometime next week, which could set a maximum number of vehicles each company deploys.

In Boise, Bieter said he’s made sure to try out the scooters despite his opposition to increasing the fleet sizes. “I took my first ride a couple of weeks ago and just had a ball — and didn’t crash!”

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Kate reports on West Ada and Canyon County for the Idaho Statesman. She previously wrote for the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Center for Investigative Reporting and the Providence Business News. She has been published in The Atlantic and BuzzFeed News. Kate graduated from Brown University with a degree in urban studies.