REXBURG — Electric scooters are now authorized to be used in Rexburg after the city moved forward with a six-month pilot program.
City leaders had received some requests from people and companies to bring the scooters to Rexburg. Earlier this month, officials presented the Dockless Personal Vehicles Operating Agreement at a City Council meeting.
Scott Johnson, City Director of Economic Development and Community Relations, told BYU-Idaho Scroll the pilot program allows the city to implement some level of safety while addressing the chaos other cities around the country experience with e-scooters.
“How do we treat these and how do we make sure people are safe while we are riding them?” Johnson said. “The last thing we want is them jumping from sidewalk to road and that’s just going to cause all sorts of chaos.”
The operating agreement stipulates riders must be at least 18-years-old and limits speed to 10 mph in downtown and city parks. Riders must use bike lanes when possible. The e-scooters won’t be allowed to operate on private property or the Brigham Young University-Idaho property without written permission.
Johnson said while the city can do things to mitigate the “chaos,” it’s on the companies operating the e-scooters to maintain order.
“We’re going to allow them to be in our right-of-way, but it’s up to them to make sure that nothing gets messed up,” Johnson said. “With that in mind … we’re doing a six month trial period, and they have to meet all the things in the operating agreement.”
Jeff Wolfe and his wife Noelle launched their scooter company GOAT Rexburg last week to get people outside. Jeff said it will take people using common sense and reading the rules to keep the scooters around.
“We just want people to be responsible,” Wolfe said.
At the Sept. 4 City Council meeting, Councilman Jordan Busby said people from Mesa, Arizona told him e-scooters litter the streets.
“They said that’s the worst thing to ever happen to Mesa,” Busby said.
Busby said in Mesa, the e-scooters are being dismantled, thrown into irrigation canals and blocking access points.
Johnson said the operating agreement addresses some of the issues with the e-scooters littering the streets. It requires companies to approve daily starting locations not only through the city but, also with adjacent property owners.
If parked incorrectly, the city requires the company re-locate, re-park or remove the e-scooter within 24-hours of receiving notice. If this isn’t done, the city can impound the e-scooter for a daily fee.
“So it really makes those scooter companies have to step up,” Johnson said.
He said while the clutter of the scooters is a concern, safety hazards facing pedestrians, vehicles and riders is also a worry.
According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, the public health impact of using e-scooters is generally unknown, but a study showed a high proportion of e-scooter related injuries are preventable through education.
“We’ll see probably some public service announcements going out,” Johnson said. “Just so that people understand, ‘Hey, this is how I should use it and this is how I shouldn’t.’”
The city’s pilot program allows companies up to 250 dockless personal vehicles during the six month trial period. That number is adjustable based on demand and daily use of the e-scooters.
City leaders specified that if the terms of the operating agreement are not met, the city can “pull the plug” on their operation.
“We want people to understand that if they’re going to use them, they need to understand how to use them safely and correctly,” Johnson said. “They need to follow all the rules that apply to how they’re using it.”
The cost of e-scooters varies from company to company. GOAT Rexburg lists their prices as $1 to unlock the e-scooter and 20 cents per minute to operate. Wolfe said the average cost of a ride on their GOAT e-scooters is between $3 and $4.