On June 30, 2021, members of the Senate Transportation Committee in Pittsburgh announced the start of a two-year pilot program to test e-scooters.
This pilot program has been in the works for the past two years. The issue needed special approval from the Legislature because the state’s motor vehicle code does not mention battery-powered scooters. The city has been working with Spin, a unit of Ford Mobility, to bring e-scooters to residents and tourists.
The city plans to implement a sharing program where bikes are rented from a series of docks throughout the city to test the scooters. The city plans to announce additional details about the program in a press conference next week.
Electric scooters are just one part of the Move PGH program developed by the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure. The goal of the program is to increase mobility in the city while reducing carbon emissions. According to DOMI Director Karina Ricks, “E-scooters are one small piece of a much larger question. They certainly are one part of a program to meet the mobility needs of our residents in an economical manner without damaging the environment.”
The CEO of Spin, Ben Bear, spoke with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the collaboration: “I’m thrilled the state of Pennsylvania passed legislation that will allow us to pilot e-scooters as part of a new initiative that the City will be announcing next week. As a Pittsburgh native, I’m looking forward to Spin’s contribution to the City’s mobility vision, which is a blueprint for the future of public-private partnerships.”
Spin currently operates in more than 70 cities and college campuses across the globe. While specifics have yet to be worked out for Pittsburgh, the company typically charges a $1 fee plus a per-minute charge that ranges from 15 cents to 50 cents. What is already certain is that e-scooters will be restricted to bicycle lanes for riding and won’t be allowed to be parked on sidewalks for safety reasons.
While e-scooters offer convenient and cost-effective last-mile transportation for many urbanites, the devices can also be incredibly dangerous. So city officials must consider those dangers when implementing policies and procedures.
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