BOISE — After four months of e-scooters on the streets of Boise, city council members are going to consider doubling the number allowed and push companies to deal with problem devices more quickly.
On Tuesday, Boise City Council decided to move ahead with drafting an ordinance that would increase the number of scooters allowed on the streets from 750 to 1,500, would require all the scooters to be picked up every night and require companies to remove them from blocking the right-of-way immediately.
Since Lime and Bird first came to Boise in October, officials say they have received few complaints compared to how many rides have been logged. So far, there have been 152,364 rides from 42,845 unique riders with only 119 complaints.
City staff will now draft changes to the ordinance and come back before council in April for final approval.
Currently, only two e-scooter companies operate in Boise with 250 devices each, but a third company, Spin, has filed an application and plans to start up in the coming weeks. In addition to the cap of allowable scooters on the streets, each company is required to maintain an average of two average rides per device per day. City officials say at the peak, when the scooters were new, the devices were averaging sometimes up to seven rides per day. This has since dropped due to cooler weather to just shy of two daily trips.
Even if council approves boosting the numbers of scooters, they would still have to adhere to the two trips per day rule, keeping the number of devices from over-saturating the streets. Councilwoman Holli Woodings said more scooters could be helpful to encourage the devices from being used outside the downtown core.
“By increasing the number we might see them creating that last-mile connectivity in places with west Boise where you don’t see scooters now,” she said. “When I look at increasing the number, I see increasing geographic diversity as opposed to just scooters downtown.”
Currently, if there is a scooter causing accessibility issues, it is reported, and the company has four hours to come and retrieve the device. If they do not pick it up within four hours, the city picks up the scooter, and the company has to pay $100 to retrieve it. City Council President Lauren McLean said she wanted that to be changed to a policy that pushes for more swift action to get the scooter back in the proper area.
“It’s important we come up with something that hurts right away,” McLean said, in effort to prevent scooters from blocking the way of people with accessibility challenges.
During the presentation, Mayor Dave Bieter asked if there have been any issues with large groups of people riding the scooters together, which he called “scooter gangs.”
“I saw a scooter gang,” he said. “There must have been 12 of them. It looked like a lot of fun. Is that a thing, is that an issue? There was a bunch of them in one group.”
City staff said there had been no reported issues of large groups of people riding scooters together.