E-scooters zipping through Boise have brought safety and behavioral problems that three ordinances approved Tuesday by the Boise City Council seek to solve.
The scooters arrived in Boise in October. The city now has 750 scooters split among three companies: Bird, Lime and Spin. They are popular: In nine months, users have traveled nearly half a million miles, and each scooter averages almost four rides per day.
While there is little hard data on accidents or other problems, city officials say anecdotal reports of risk-taking and misbehavior justify the latest changes.
One change affects speed limits. Boise currently limits speeds to 15 mph, but the new ordinances will make riders slow down to under 5 mph in congested areas, public plazas or other geofenced areas. Grove Plaza, Rhodes Skate Park and other plazas are currently considered for geofencing, and riders would be forced to slow down in those areas.
A second change affects reckless riders. Each scooter will get an ID number to help people identify reckless users and report them to the companies.
“If there’s an interaction or an unfriendly rider that’s out there causing problems, someone could call in that number, we would go right back, pinpoint that, report it to the company, and they could take them off the system, ” Craig Croner, administrative services manager, said at a Boise City Council work session last week.
Cities like Portland and Denver have used individual IDs on their scooters.
A third change penalizes vandalism. If a rider knowingly defaces public or private property open to the public with tire marks, that person would be guilty of a misdemeanor.
A fourth may affect each company’s fleet size. The city will monitor the use of e-scooters to determine how many devices should be part of a company’s fleet by looking at how often each device is used.
On the 1st and 15th day of each month, the City Clerk’s Office would determine if an increase or decrease the size of the fleet is necessary by looking at “utilization rates, the total number of devices deployed within the city, the market needs, the licensee’s performance, public safety, seasonal and environmental conditions, and special events.”
A company must show that each device it deploys has at least two rides each day, or the fleet may be reduced. If a company has three or four rides per scooter per day, it may request an increase in the number of scooters in its fleet.
The city will cap the number of devices at 1,500.
Companies also would need to rebalance their fleets by 6 a.m. every day to ensure that scooters are in the right spots and not where they shouldn’t be, such as on ramps at a bus stop. If a scooter is impeding pedestrian travel or accessibility, the city can remove it and impose fines or penalties.
“This technology and this industry is really evolving around the city,” Croner said. “We are seeing better practices in deploying the scooters in the right spot.”