Mobility Committee continues discussing future of scooters in Austin
At any given moment in Austin, you're sure to see someone in a rush to get to the bus stop or return to work zipping by on a scooter.
But with six scooter companies now in town - bringing the total number of licensed scooters in the city to more than 11,000 - comes growing concerns from the community.
"I'd like you to speak now on the enforcement process," said District 10 Council Member Alison Alter at Thursday's Mobility Committee meeting.
The Austin Transportation Department gave its dockless mobility update. They discussed starting the process of putting together a safety ordinance for scooters, which will focus on the responsibilities of the users. This comes after recently finalizing operating rules for the companies.
"Making sure, just like a person riding a bicycle or person driving a car has certain responsibilities should they have a crash or cause a crash," said Director of Transportation Robert Spillar.
Officials with Lime, one of the city's dockless scooter providers, also gave an update on the issue that led to them being penalized by the city.
They say a technical difficulty with the app caused them to deploy more than the 500 scooters allowed in the downtown area, leading to the city reducing their number of scooters in Austin by 1,000 for the next month. This will be over on December 27th.
"We had a couple of days of a technical difficulty around our deployments. We know that. It is something we have ventured and strived to fix, and we have fixed it," said Sam Sadle, Lime's Director of Government Relations.
City leaders also discussed how to deal with the growing number of scooters. The Transportation Department expects more than 2,000,000 scooter rides by the end of the year. The scooter companies have expanded service beyond Downtown Austin, deploying many near public transit stops.
"We're dedicated to serving the entire city of Austin. That means north, all the way up to The Domain. That means south of Ben White," Sadle said.
Currently, there's no cap on the number of scooters or scooter companies allowed in Austin, but this is something both sides continue to discuss.
"We will consider limiting the number of companies in town, the total number of scooters," Spillar said.
The City of Austin also announced at the meeting they are teaming up with the CDC to determine the health and safety impact of scooters in major cities. The CDC will look into injuries earlier this year, and then will work to develop best practices to prevent or reduce scooter injuries. It will be the first study of it's kind.