By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Last year, electric scooters were introduced into Milwaukee’s transportation system via the company Bird. However, the scooters, which were often left at random places, were banned shortly after.
According to the Journal Sentinel, because the arrival of the scooters was unannounced, the city filed a lawsuit against Bird, after the company disregarded a cease-and-desist letter. The Journal Sentinel reported that a settlement was reached, but the terms have not been released yet.
Despite the initial animosity, Milwaukee may soon be introducing Bird scooters back on the street.
According to the Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee will be launching a pilot program, which will allow companies to set up scooters throughout the city.
This change is in part due to Gov. Tony Evers.
Earlier this week, Evers signed Senate Bill 152 or 2019 Wisconsin Act 11, which “expands transportation options and gives municipalities the ability to manage the right balance of safety and access of the right way for all electric scooter users.”
In other words, electric scooters are potentially returning to Milwaukee.
“Electric scooters improve access to low-cost transportation options and can serve as a first or last-mile solution to residents and visitors in communities throughout our state,” said Evers.
Evers added that he signed the bill, which he hopes will bring clarity to a rapidly-growing industry. This bill empowers local governments to make the decisions, which best fit their areas, he said.
“We want this to be a city where there are many modes of transportation,” said Mayor Tom Barrett during the press conference.
Other modes include the Milwaukee County Transit System, the streetcar or Hop, Bublr bikes and more. Barrett said the pilot program looked at other cities throughout the nation, which have incorporated electric scooters into their transportation system.
Secretary of Tourism Sara Meaney said the electric scooters provide a fun and engaging way for visitors and residents alike to travel throughout the city.
The legislation was made on a bipartisan effort and introduced by Sen. Dale Kooyenga and Rep. Mike Kuglitsch.
According to the legislations, electric scooters are exempt from vehicle registration, however anyone operating an electric scooter must adhere to the rules of the road. An electric scooter can be operated on “most roadways, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and bicycle ways, however, a local highway authority may by ordinance regulate the rental and operation of electric scooters.”
All electric scooters must maintain the same requirements as Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Devices (EPAMDs), which means lighting and brake requirements.