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Are scooters cluttering Milwaukee streets?

Posted at 7:05 PM, Jul 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-30 20:23:17-04

MILWAUKEE — Problems are arising one week into electric scooters being re-introduced to Milwaukee. One thing at the top of some people's mind is where the scooters should be parked.

Scooters don't have specific parking spots. They just have to remain out of pedestrian's way.

As seen in a video taken by a driver Tuesday morning outside 1000 North Water Street, a security guard was moving parked scooters from the sidewalk to the street.

They remained there hours later, which concerned Brandon Burkholder, who works in the city.

“That is actually in the way of traffic,” Burkholder said. “If it was nighttime, a car wouldn’t be able to see those scooters there, and they would hit them.”

Off-camera, the supervisor of the building said he didn’t know why his employee did this, but the situation calls into question whether these new electronic scooters are cluttering the city.

“It’s going to be a mess. It is going to be a big mess,” Burkholder said.

Right now there are 500 Lime scooters in Milwaukee, but that number could rise. The Department of Public Works Multi-Modal Transportation Manager, Mike Amsden, said they expect scooters from Bird and Spin to arrive next months.

“We really want to make sure that they’re spread out throughout the city so that we don’t have mass clutter in one small area,” Amsden said.

Numbers aren’t finalized, but between the two companies, there could be at least 700 more.

“It is going to look like just scooters everywhere, parked anywhere where people are actually trying to walk down the sidewalk,” Burkholder said.

Nicolas Manley, who lives in Milwaukee, felt differently.

“I don’t think they’re scattered around too much to cause an eyesore, or be a pain or nuisance to people,” Manley said.

Lime isn’t picking sides and instead, looks at the positive.

“We are seeing an average trip of about 1.2 miles in the city and that tells us that these really are filling a last mile solution,” Lime Midwest Government Relations Director Nico Probst said.

The guidelines say scooters can’t block pedestrian access, and once a user is done riding a Lime scooter, they have to take a picture of it. Probst said the app accepts all photos, but a representative reviews them.

“If it is a mis-parked scooter then we quickly address the issue and go move the scooter,” Probst said.

They then track down the user and talk to them directly.

The Lime app even has a game that encourages users to park correctly, and also offers the company feedback. It works like a dating app. You open the left sidebar and press ‘Parked or Not.’ Press ‘play’ on that page, and you can then rate the parking jobs.

Amsden said clutter is something they’re evaluating as a part of their study. Remember, this is still a pilot program that expires at the end of the year on December 31, 2019.

The final decision on whether to make the electronic scooter program permanent with or without additional regulations will come down to the Common Council.