Wednesday, September 27, 2023 Sep 27, 2023
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We’ve Got Bike Share Regulations, and the Scooters Are Coming

Dallas, at long last, has regulations in place for bike share. Electric scooters, which should hit the streets this week, are next.
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It only took a year and today, several more hours of sloppy City Council debate that made at least one observer want to bang his head into something hard, but Dallas finally has bike share regulations. And the electric scooters, ready or not, are coming as soon as today.

The bike share regulations look much as they did when we wrote about them earlier this month:

  • Permits, per-bike fees and a $5,000 bond (in case one of the bike share companies go bankrupt) for each bike share company that wants to operate in the city
  • Bike share companies will have two hours to rebalance or restage a bike that’s been reported to 311 for being somewhere it’s not supposed to be
  • The city will bring on two parking enforcement officers to help enforce these regulations
  • Bike share companies will have to share ridership data with the city
  • A bike is not allowed to sit unridden for more than two days in a residential neighborhood

Council members, apparently as tired as everybody else is of talking about bike share, approved the bike regulations unanimously. (Mayor Mike Rawlings is out of town.) The scooter ordinance, which would repeal an old ordinance banning the use of electric scooters in Dallas and institute regulations for shareable versions of same, proved more contentious.

Adam McGough wanted to wait until October to take any action. Dwaine Caraway, again, for some reason, wanted to talk about docked bike share. He also wanted to talk, in a roundabout way, about the danger cyclists face using the roads in southern Dallas, a danger that electric scooter users would also face, which is less of a scooter problem and more of a car problem, or an infrastructure problem, or a bad urban design problem. Anyway, there was a lot of back-and-forth about the supposed dangers of riding an electric scooter. (No talk of how dorky riding one looks.) There was also a stupendous amount of procedural confusion, more unnecessary grandstanding about “bike mess,” and bad questions about things that probably could have been settled months ago. “This process has been just as bad as the bikes being strewn all over the city,” Caraway said, accurately.

Jennifer Staubach Gates wanted a six-month pilot program for the scooters, and ultimately she got it, with a 9-5 vote. Expect Bird, a scooter-only outfit that’s taken off in California and elsewhere, and Lime (they operate the green bikes) to start rolling out scooters any minute now. Representatives of the companies told the City Council that they plan to eventually put about 500 scooters each on the streets.

The scooter ordinance (starting on page 1148) that the council will hopefully approve in six months and probably should have just adopted today resembles the bike share ordinance in spirit and form. It also bans the riding of electric scooters on sidewalks in the central business district downtown, where there are essentially no buffered bike lanes and most drivers only grudgingly share the road with the few bicyclists brave enough to bike on the street. (We can settle that some other day, maybe.) The ordinance prohibits scooter use on streets with a speed limit above 35 miles per hour. Rules about unused scooters left in neighborhoods won’t apply, because they are collected by the companies to be recharged at night. Edits to both ordinances are possible and likely.

Great. Now let’s get the city to back an earn-a-bike program and community bike shop.

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