New curfew for e-scooters emphasizes driver safety and requirements | Cincinnati News | Cincinnati

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Photo: Facebook.com/bird

Bird scooters

Scooter riders can rejoice; cyclists now have more time to navigate the city.

The Cincinnati Department of Transportation and Engineering extended the previously set curfew for scooter riders from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Now, drivers can ride an electric scooter from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The scooters were previously operational until 11 p.m., making them convenient for customers to use near nightlife or after events. City officials announced the 6 p.m. curfew on April 25, citing security concerns, underage conduct and “criminal activity.”

The decision to bring forward the curfew by three hours was made at the Cincinnati City Council Public Safety and Governance Committee meeting on August 2.

Representatives from Lime and Bird testified about the steps each company has taken to address the security issues that prompted the 6 p.m. curfew.

The demand for scooters remained stable during the curfew.

Lime’s director of community and government relations, Lee Foley, told committee members that demand for trips on their scooters was high during off-hours. Since April, more than 44,000 people have opened the Lime app between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. but encountered locked scooters.

“That number is also consistent with the number of trips we see on a daily basis,” Foley told committee members. “So at around 2,000 commutes a day, that means what we’re seeing for app opens, for unmet demand, is people who typically make our trips across town to work or to recreational purposes cannot go home because of the curfew.

Lime and Bird promised committee members tougher regulations on safety precautions, including rules of conduct and educational quizzes for cyclists on pedestrian safety and parking.

Current rules require drivers to use the scooters in cycle lanes or follow the flow of traffic, avoiding sidewalks and obeying all traffic signs and lights. Users must also park their scooter in a designated area after each ride is completed.

Lime offers new steps towards sidewalk safety.

Lime said it will continue to work with the city to provide data on how many cyclists are riding illegally on sidewalks and where sidewalks happen the most. The partnership is meant to inform the city’s infrastructure planning for protected bike lanes. The app will also warn cyclists who spend too much time on sidewalks with a push notification after their ride is complete. Foley told the council there is potential for technology that would prevent the scooter from operating on the pavement, but said this could pose a safety concern, particularly in city center spaces where GPS could be less efficient.

Repeat offenders of Lime or Bird’s rules will be hit with a series of fines ranging from $10 to $25 before the app permanently suspends the user. Foley said Lime is able to share data with Bird about users who get banned so the two apps can de-platform the pilot.

Sorry, kids. You must be 18 to ride.

Companies are working to put in place new measures to limit the conduct of minors. Riders must prove they are at least 18 years old by uploading a photo of a photo ID – either a driver’s license or state-issued photo ID – in order to start a trip . Over time, the Lime app may ask users to confirm that the ID belongs to the rider with a selfie, but Lime wants this requirement applied to both companies. Foley says testing this method in markets where Bird doesn’t share the second step of adding a selfie has forced many Lime users to switch to Bird.

Click to enlarge Lime riders must prove they are at least 18 years old by uploading a photo of a photo ID – either a driver's license or state-issued photo ID – in order to start a travel.  - Lime electric scooters

Lime electric scooters

Lime riders must prove they are at least 18 years old by uploading a photo of a photo ID – either a driver’s license or state-issued photo ID – in order to start a travel.

The ID requirement also disadvantages adults without photo ID; something Foley said the company has addressed in its New York market by allowing drivers with a city key (an identification program often used by undocumented people) to ride a scooter.

If Cincinnati scooter users can ride responsibly for the next 60 days, the city said it would consider bringing the scooter curfew back to 11 p.m. The committee will use statistics from the previous curfew period as a benchmark to judge runners for the next 60 days. .

Competing companies launched app-rental scooters in Cincinnati in 2018. In CityBeatfrom the Best of Cincinnati 2019 issue, staff writers called scooters “the best new option to get around, love ’em or hate ’em”.

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Earnest L. Veasey