Boise City Council Touts Successes as it Mulls Easing Rules on e-Scooters 

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Harrison Berry

Starting this spring, there could be significantly more e-scooters on Boise streets. On Jan. 15, the Boise City Council heard from staff about the current state of e-scooters in the City of Trees. In response, it called for changes to the current rules that cap the number of devices each e-scooter vendor can deploy in the city.

"I think the market is going to dictate the number of [e-scooters]," said Council Member TJ Thomson, who seconded Council Member Scot Ludwig's motion.

Under a package of ordinances passed in 2018, the number of devices a vendor may roll out must be between 50 and 250. There is also a three-vendor cap in effect. Ludwig's proposal, which was adopted by the council 4-2, asks city staff to draft an amendment to the ordinance increasing the maximum number of devices each e-scooter vendor may deploy to 500.

If the council votes to implement those changes at a future meeting, and if Spin, a potential third vendor which hopes to start doing business in Boise as early as February 2019, gets a green light from the city, there could be up to 1,500 e-scooters on Boise streets this spring between Spin, Bird and Lime.

The council was swayed to make the change after Development of Finance and Administration Director Craig Croner described the city's regulations on e-scooters as a qualified success.

"We've actually facilitated another component of alternative transportation that's really gained a lot of traction here in a short amount of time, even in the winter months," he said. "As a [vehicle] fleet manager, I can tell you there are a lot of fleets out there that would really like to have this utilization."

Croner said that to date, nearly 36,000 unique riders have ridden Boise e-scooters almost 120,000 miles. He added that the number of complaints—75 in the three months the scooters have been deployed—are marginal when set against the number of rides and distance traveled, though council members urged him to continue working with vendors to address issues associated with reckless e-scooter use and their placement in the right-of-way.

At peak usage, people were riding each e-scooter as many as eight times per day. Currently, each device is used approximately 1.7 times per day—a number members of the council are keen to keep low by raising the number of e-scooters on the streets.

"Now that people are used to [e-scooters], I think that once the weather starts to get nicer, people aren't going to be able to find a device when they need to use them," said Council Member Holli Woodings.

A date has not been set for when the council will hear the proposed amendments to city ordinances concerning e-scooters.
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