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The scooter situation in Lisbon. Photo: Horacio Villalobos/Corbis via Getty Images.

Dockless e-scooters have arrived in cities from Austin to Paris without safety or storage guidance, resulting in imperiled pedestrians, vandalized scooters, hospitalized riders and bewildered governments — and now other cities are rushing to take proactive steps.

The big picture: Cities, especially those in the first wave to receive e-scooters, have been hamstrung in responding to unsanctioned, unregulated rollouts that call to mind Uber's playbook.

What's happening: Paris, for example, was deluged by over 20,000 e-scooters without consultation. Broken scooters have been thrown into the Seine, and victims of injuries caused by scooters are organizing to sue authorities, citing regulatory negligence.

  • Cities including Chicago, Portland and Calgary have attempted to make rules proactively, permitting small-scale pilot programs and experimenting with policies and practices designed to integrate tech into the transportation landscape.

How it works: The more control a city has over traffic and roadways, and the more notice it has about the arrival of e-scooters, the stronger its position can be in responding to rollouts.

  • For example, with latitude from the provincial level in Quebec, Montreal was able to negotiate before allowing a 3-year pilot program of Lime scooters that involves analyzing how they're used, particularly for “last mile” travel between transit and home.
  • Montreal implemented stringent rules: Scooters are restricted to streets with speed limits under 30 mph, and they're not allowed on sidewalks. They must be parked in designated areas. Riders must be 18, licensed and helmeted, and they have to watch a training video. Additionally, Lime must share data on its fleet (including accidents, complaints and remedies), which could inform updates to the rules.
  • Yes, but: The Montreal pilot program still experienced some backlash since launching in August, with complaints about sidewalk crowding, illegal parking and potential injuries.

The bottom line: The pilot program in Montreal could serve as a template for other cities anticipating e-scooter rollouts — and also for mobility tech companies.

Alex Ryan is VP of systems innovation and program director of the Solutions Lab at MaRS.

Go deeper

Updated 43 mins ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.

Black Friday shopping up from 2020 but trails pre-pandemic levels

Shoppers carry their purchases during Black Friday shopping at Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont of Greater Chicago Area, Illinois on Nov. 26, 2021. Photo: Joel Lerner/Xinhua via Getty Images

More shoppers flocked to stores on Black Friday this year compared to last, but online shopping was lower than expected, according to data from Friday.

Driving the news: Online shopping was on the lower end of what was expected, largely because people had been ringing up their shopping carts earlier in the year in an effort to skirt potential supply chain issues, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index.