Omaha will be joining a growing number of cities that use dockless scooters as a form of transportation. Mayor Jean Stothert announced Wednesday that beginning this spring the city will be taking part in a six month pilot program to see if electric scooters will catch on here.
Stothert says up to three companies will be selected to participate in the pilot. Each company can have up to 500 scooters in the city during the test run.
The scooters don't have permanent parking spots. Riders rent the scooters using a smartphone app, ride them anywhere they want and leave them for the next person to use. Stothert says the leave-it-anywhere concept has drawn criticism from officials in other cities. People have left them on sidewalks, city parks and many other places.
Mayor Stothert says she's concerned about safety and enforcement issues too. "There's all of these requirements of age, of helmet, of staying in the right-of-way, and what I have seen myself in other cities- they don't follow what those rules are." Riders need to be at least 18 and Stothert says she has seen much younger people using them.
Each bidding company has to meet a number of requirements, including equipping each one with front and rear lights and ensuring that the scooters don't go faster than 15 miles per hour. Participating companies must pay $10,000 for a permit, plus 50 cents per scooter per day, and 5 cents per ride per day.
After the pilot ends in November the city will evaluate the program to see if it meets the goals of the city's master plan, which includes creating livable and connected neighborhoods and providing multi-faceted transportation.
The City of Omaha will take bids through February 8.