Waco considers expanding bike sharing pilot program to include scooters

Posted at 3:13 PM, Dec 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-17 20:25:30-05

The Waco City Council will decide Tuesday whether to expand a proposed pilot bike share program to include scooters.

Waco Metropolitan Organization Senior Planner Chelsea Phlegar said staff received proposals for bike sharing programs from three companies on Oct. 5, but all of them included electronic-assist scooters as an option, add-on service. 

"When we started the Request For Proposals process, scooters were just coming online in the major cities but only in the last few months, they started to deploy in smaller jurisdictions more similar to Waco," Phlegar said.

In August, Bird brought scooters to Waco but the city asked the company to remove them.

"We didn't have anything in our ordinance that would permit scooters or even a bike sharing company to put their equipment on the ground without coming to an agreement with the city," Phlegar said.

Waco resident Carl Johnson Sr. remembers when the scooters were brought to Waco for a weekend.

"A lot of people use them but they took advantage of the roads. Sometimes they crisscross in front of traffic but like I said if there are rules and regulations, I'm for it all the way. If you look at it, it's an easy way to get around in a small town," Johnson said.

Phlegar said the vendors have to submit detailed information about their plans.

"Safety is definitely a concern. Many of the vendors have their own rules and regulations for who is allowed to operate and under what circumstances they are allowed to operate. That and partnering with the city to have very clear rules where scooters are allowed to ride, where the system area is," Phlegar said. "I think working together on both the city side and with the vendor, we would do our best to minimize safety concerns."

Johnson supports the idea of bringing scooters to the city.

"I think scooters are great as long as they have rules and regulations in place for the scooters and also the drivers of the scooters should be aware of the public driving," Johnson said.

City staff is recommending the city council to reject all proposals and issue a new request for proposals for a pilot "shared mobility system" that could include bikes, e-scooters and other mobility devices.

If the council approves moving forward on Tuesday, the city hopes to have the revised Request for Proposals by the end of this year. If a proposal is accepted, the pilot program expected to last a year would be implemented in the summer.

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