City Hall

Scooter Operators Must Follow New Rules If They Want To Return

Operators need to be able to adhere to hours of operation and verify users' ages if they want to scoot back into Dallas.
Operators need to be able to adhere to hours of operation and verify users' ages if they want to scoot back into Dallas. courtesy Lime
The city says scooter companies need to get their act together and abide by new rules if they want to return to Dallas. The companies need to be able to adhere to the hours of operation, come up with a way to verify users' ages, limit the number of units on a single block and implement ID numbers on every scooter if they want to be back in business in the Big D.

The city is also considering increasing the number of corrals for dockless vehicles and sticking stickers on sidewalks that advise against side-walk-riding.

"We hope to continue working collaboratively with the city to ensure residents have access to convenient, affordable and safe transportation options, especially ones that allow for open-air travel while remaining socially distant due to concerns over COVID-19," Lime said in a statement to the Observer.

In March, the city passed a new dockless vehicle ordinance that required companies to shut down operations after 9 p.m. in Deep Ellum and after 12 a.m. in the rest of Dallas. They were allowed to resume service at 5 a.m. But the Dallas Transportation Department says business owners haven't seen compliance with the time restrictions.

Since the ordinance was passed, the Dallas Transportation Department says the city has seen scooters used as weapons during civil unrest, underage ridership after hours, wrong-way-riding and disregard for pedestrians on sidewalks.

The city has received complaints about the scooters from Uptown Dallas Inc., Downtown Dallas Inc., the Deep Ellum Foundation, business owners and residents. The complainers allege the scooter companies and their riders are not adhering to the dockless vehicle ordnance, which poses safety issues.

Dallas Police Department Deputy Chief Thomas Castro said many of the complaints had to do with riders getting hurt. “That really was the focus from public safety," Castro said.

Citing public safety worries, the Dallas Transportation Department halted the city’s scooter program at the beginning of September. Four vendors, Lime, Bird, Ojo and Wheels provide Dallas with over 9,000 scooters. The department gave the scooter operators three days to get them off streets.

Council members Adam Medrano, David Blewett and Transportation Director Mike Rogers went cruising around Dallas a little over a month ago to assess the problems posed by the scooters. They say they found operations continued even after their shutdown times and that they were used for non-transportation purposes. This is what ultimately prompted the temporary ban.

During this week's City Council meeting, Blewett said the scooter vendors have failed to police themselves.

A public meeting between residents, local businesses, the scooter companies and the city is set for Thursday next week. Until then, the transportation department staff will continue talks with scooter operators to refine their findings and recommend actions to be included in the development of an RFP to select a limited number of
preferred vendors

But a source at one of the city’s scooter vendors told the Observer that if operators have to wait too long, many will have to reconsider whether continuing operations in Dallas makes sense.
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Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.
Contact: Jacob Vaughn