Mar 27, 2023 - News

Scooter parking, neighborhood expansion on deck

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New e-scooter parking "hubs," with special signage and physical racks, could be coming to downtown Cleveland as early as this fall.

Why it matters: Scooters haphazardly parked or knocked over can be both eyesores and obstructions, especially in high-density pedestrian areas.

  • Clutter on city sidewalks has been a common criticism since e-scooters launched in Cleveland in 2019.

Driving the news: In a presentation to Cleveland City Council's transportation committee last week, City Hall senior strategist for transit and mobility Calley Mersmann outlined the shared mobility program's plans for expansion and refinement in the coming year.

  • In addition to parking infrastructure, the city wants to increase access to scooters and e-bikes in areas beyond downtown.
  • One solution would be to create a "dynamic fleet policy," which would allow for additional devices based on demand. Another would be to mandate that a certain percentage of an operator's fleet must be located outside downtown.

Catch up quick: Three shared mobility companies — Bird, Lime and Superpedestrian (which operates the LINK-brand scooters) — are active in Cleveland, with annual permits that allow them to place as many as 400 devices citywide.

  • Devices are accessible via mobile apps, cost $1 to unlock, and then charge a per-minute ride fee.
  • After a curfew extension in January, the devices can be rented from 5am to 11pm. Bird and Lime also provide e-bikes, which can be rented 24 hours a day.

Between the lines: Council members in attendance were keen on the idea of a more equitable scooter footprint and promoted their wards as destinations.

What they're saying: West Park councilman Charles Slife advocated for increased partnerships with RTA and the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority to promote scooter use among low-income residents, to whom the operators offer discount rides and memberships.

  • "My worry is that there's a perception issue," he said. "How do we communicate that, yes, this is something you can use to get to a Guardians game after dinner in Ohio City, but it's also something you can use to get from your apartment on Woodhill to the Rapid Station to get to work?"

What's next: A list of locations for parking hubs is expected to be reviewed and approved by the Ohio Department of Transportation in the coming month or two, after which firms will be invited to bid on their construction and installation, Mersmann said.

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