With the Bird and Lime scooters taking over Indianapolis users and government officials have been in a frenzy. Since they can be found nearly anywhere in the downtown area, these scooters make short distance travel convenient and fun. As entertaining as these scooters are, users need to be aware of what is in store for the future. The City-County Council recently passed a law to regulate these scooters and the companies behind them; riders need to know the regulations and their general rules if we want to keep them in Indy.
In Indianapolis, the scooters seemed to appear overnight, shocking our city’s government. To allow the government time to establish guidelines, the city requested – which Bird declined – to suspend operations for 30 days. When placed in a similar situation, cities like Nashville began impounding the scooters until they were able to implement a framework. Indy, though, seems to be embracing the new technology, compromising with scooter companies. The proposed rules, among other things, would clarify where patrons can ride the Bird and Lime scooters and where the companies and patrons can park them. The framework will also encompass punitive action that can be taken against these companies if they disregard the law, which may result in their loss to legally operate in Indy.
In particular, the Indianapolis City-County Council requires the scooter companies to pay a $15,000 annual license fee and a $1 per day parking fee per scooter. Legislation passed by the council bans the scooters from trails, sidewalks, White River State Park, and the Canal Walkway in downtown Indianapolis, according to Inside Indiana Business. Those who park scooters where they are not allowed will face $25 fines.
Though having a maximum speed of approximately 15 miles per hour, Bird and Lime scooters are considered motorized vehicles. Ride these scooters in the bike lane when available and close to the curb when they are not; they must be kept off sidewalks and trails for riding purposes. It is illegal to ride on the sidewalks and scooter users could be ticketed.
The simplicity of the Bird and Lime scooters has made it equally simple to park the scooter in an unauthorized area. Unlike Indy’s yellow bike rentals, Bird and Lime scooters do not have docking stations. The new regulations make clear where the scooters can and cannot be parked. The scooter companies’ websites make clear they should not be parked in walk ways, driveways, or handicap designated areas. Scooters users should be polite when parking, keeping paths clear for others.
Bird has started the Save our Sidewalks (S.O.S.) pledge, in hopes of easing the frustration. The three pillars of the S.O.S. pledge include daily pickup, responsible growth, and revenue sharing. The daily pickup allows the company to charge the scooters then reposition them in a desirable location. The responsible growth piece promises not to increase the number of Birds in a city unless each scooter is actually being used. The company also offers $1 per scooter per day to a city’s government to build bike lanes and promote safe riding.
In addition to responsible parking, users need to be safe while riding. The Bird and Lime scooters advise riders to wear a helmet, though Indiana law does not require helmets for riders over the age of 18. Additionally, both companies require users to be 18+ old to ride with a valid driver’s license. To further rider safety, through the app, Bird offers free helmets to their users who agree to pay for shipping costs.
All users should know how to work their scooters properly before starting their fun trips. The Bird and Lime scooters are equipped with a throttle, handbrake, and kickstand. Riders start and end their trip by using the app to lock and unlock the scooter. Both feet should be kept on the scooter while riding, no “stunts”. To stay safe and legal, riders need to follow all traffic laws in Indy. While riders certainly need to be careful when maneuvering, other citizens need to be aware of these scooters now that they are here. Riders need to use caution at crosswalks and other public right of ways to lower risks to those walking.
These scooters, with their short trip capacity, will cut down on congestion and decrease the cost of commuting downtown. Indy’s government has adopted regulations that will keep these scooters around, but that will only go so far. New technology is consistently appearing, Indy’s transition will run smoother if citizens comply with regulations and ride courteously.