Apr 22, 2022 - News

Why aren't there electric scooters in Des Moines?

Illustration of a man on a scooter moving out of frame
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

In our recurring feature "Ask Axios," readers send us questions about Des Moines and we try to answer them.

Question: "Any idea why in the heck the most dense city in the state doesn't have scooters yet, but sprawling Waukee does? Just do not understand what the hold up is downtown," writes reader David Jennings of Des Moines.

Answer: There isn't any "political appetite" by the Des Moines City Council to allow shared electric scooters without ordinances in place to regulate them, said Jeremy Lewis, executive director of the Street Collective.

State of play: While electric scooter companies have expressed interest in launching in Des Moines, it's ultimately up to the council to allow it.

  • At the moment, Des Moines isn't considering them.

Yes, but: It's possible a pilot program could happen in the future if there's better road infrastructure, said Pam Cooksey, assistant city manager, in a statement.

  • Updated ordinances would also be needed. Some of the rules that need to be addressed include where the scooters can be ridden and how companies operate them.

Flashback: The Des Moines MPO partnered with several organizations to survey residents on scooters and see how they would like the program to be operated.

  • They were about to share it with the council in March 2020. Then the pandemic abruptly ended plans, said Gunnar Olson of the MPO.

The bottom line: There are no plans to bring back the conversation, but the detailed survey shows the majority of residents (57%) want a program.

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