With public transportation being at the back end because of COVID-19, transportation modes like electric scooters are now handling the front line. The electric scooter pilot program in Chicago will be seeing last year and the next pilot this month on August 12, for similar reasons.
The pilot program in Chicago, which is in its last leg, will be handled by Bird, Lime, and Spine while deploying 10000 scooters on the roads of Chicago. A total of ten vendors have been involved in this program, and their vendors will be providing scooters around the city, except a few demarcated areas like the lakefront.
Measures have been put into place to ensure the smooth use of the scooters by riders. 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. each will be the timing during which the electric scooters will be allowed on-road, and sidewalks have been kept completely free of them to avoid cluttering. Locking mechanisms are a mandate here to put the electric scooters in position while they are locked to a rack or a street sign.
One of the key problems, as seen in the earlier pilot test, was that sidewalks experienced clutter caused by unlocked scooters. It caused issues for visually impaired people who need clear pathways to walk. It is why the locking aspect has been turned into a mandatory feature of the pilot in Chicago.
A recent release explained the motive behind the deployment of electric scooters in the city, when city Transportation Commissioner Gia Biagi said, “Particularly during this public health crisis, CDOT must continue to pilot additional and innovative options for Chicagoans to get around.”
The same release also mentioned that 43% area covered by the pilot test would be “where residents face systemic disadvantages following generations of underinvestment and inequitable access to transportation and other resources.” For the same reason, it is a compulsion for vendors to position 50% of their scooters in such areas. Checking will be done on this twice a day as well.
Companies involved in the pilot also seem to be quite excited about it as LeAaron Foley, government relations director for Lime, has also explained how their scooters intend to bring transportation gaps between neighborhoods on the south and west side.
Many offers have also been added to the pilot that will begin soon. First responders, healthcare workers, and essential workers will all have free 30-minute rides for them. The riders traveling from south to the west side will be given priority giving a discount of 50% on their ride.
Prices for the rides will differ based on what the vendor has put the bar at, but most of the electric scooters can be rented for under $1 plus 15 cents a minute, as was seen in the earlier pilot. This year’s pilot is larger in scale as more scooters are being added. Each company, with a total of 10 vendors, has been allowed to place 3333 scooters. Earlier the number was 2500 only in total, wherein scooters were placed in areas on the north, west, and south sides.
The use of electric scooters has been a show of pros and cons both. As seen in the earlier pilot, total rides taken were 7000, but that also amounted to 200 emergency room visits by riders. It also saw many scooters cluttering the sidewalks, but this year vendors will be accounted for not following the prescribed standards. They will provide educational materials for users, so any situations like that can be avoided. Taking last year’s feedback from the residents, this year’s pilot will be conducted to finish the program entirely.