Boise City Council Wrestles With Proposed Dockless Bike-Share Rules 

click to enlarge Gabriel Scheer of LimeBike delivered a presentation on his dockless bike-share program to the Boise City council in May.

Boise City Council

Gabriel Scheer of LimeBike delivered a presentation on his dockless bike-share program to the Boise City council in May.

As dockless bike-share companies eye Boise as a possible new market for their bikes, e-bikes and e-scooters, the Boise City Council got an update July 10 on the governmental tools it has at its disposal to help manage what could be the biggest influx of bikes on city streets in its history.

Those tools, according to city Comprehensive Planning Manager Daren Fluke, consist of licensing and franchise agreements, limitations on the kinds of devices it will allow on streets and sidewalks, and speed restrictions. Fluke presented the council with a proposed fee schedule of a $200 initial application fee ($100 for later filings), a $10-per-device fee, an additional $20 security deposit for each device, a $100 abatement fee per abatement per device, and a $5-per-day fee for any storage services.

Council President Lauren McLean leaned toward possibly steeper costs aimed at for-profit bike-share businesses, saying the proposed fee schedule may not be commensurate with costs that may be borne by the city. She urged staff to come up with a ballpark figure for the cost to the city to keep devices free from the right of way.

"It would seem to me that the fees proposed aren't commensurate with the level of concern you've brought to us, and one could make the case that that a $20,000 licensing fee would cover the cost of administering a program and the enforcement of a program that you and others have concerns about."

There was also concern about how many bikes, e-bikes and e-scooters will be allowed into Boise, and members of the council were wary of companies entering the city with thousands of devices. During its initial presentation, LimeBike representatives said they would need to deploy at least 750 units to make doing business in Boise worth its while, but council members McLean, Elaine Clegg and Scot Ludwig indicated they would be comfortable with a lower number.

They were, nevertheless, hopeful they would be able to craft ordinances that would protect the city while allowing dockless bike-shares to thrive.

"My fear is, we don't know about this stuff," McLean said. "If we archaically choose to do something because we don't like the idea of scooters on sidewalks or are more comfortable with bikes because, honestly, that's what we know, are we setting them up for a program that fails and nobody's happy at all?"

Staff said they would reach out to the bike-shares that have shown interest in Boise to better gauge what levels of operation would be viable to them. A public hearing on the ordinance package is set to take place at the regularly scheduled Boise City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 24.
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