Shared electric scooters coming to the West Side for pilot program this summer

CHICAGO — It seems dockless electric scooters will be buzzing around the West Side of Chicago this summer, after the City announced a pilot program designed to test the “viability” of on-demand transportation services Wednesday.

Scooters from companies like Uber, Lyft, Lime and Bird allow users to find and ride them using a smartphone app, and then leave them parked at their destination when they are done.

A pilot program designed by the Department of Transportation and Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection will allow vendors to roll out scooters in a designated “pilot zone” on the West Side for four months, starting on June 15. A total of 2,500 scooters will be part of the program, divided evenly among vendors selected by the City.

The pilot zone is bounded by Halsted Street and the Chicago River on the east, Irving Park Road on the north, the City boundary and Harlem Avenue on the west, and the Chicago River on the south.

“This geography, and particularly the priority areas, were selected for the opportunity to pilot scooters in a variety of community types,” BACP Commissioner Rosa Escareno said in a statement.

There are some restrictions for the scooters, which must only be driven on roads, reach a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour, and only be operated between five a.m. and 10 p.m. Vendors will be required to remove all the scooters at night, and retrieve any “improperly parked” ones within two hours during the day, according to the City.

In a statement, the City said the program will use data from the scooter companies and community outreach to, “assess the viability of this new mobility option for Chicago residents and visitors.”

Representatives from the industry have been negotiating with city and state leaders through the winter. While similar services are available in many major cities around the country, they have met resistance in some municipalities, where residents complain of abandoned scooters cluttering sidewalks and other public spaces. Cities like Ventura, CA and Cleveland, OH have outright bans.

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