How Chicago's New Shareable Scooter Program Will Work: a Primer

After months of discussion and planning, a scooter-sharing program is coming to Chicago on Saturday, and residents undoubtedly have questions about how everything will work with the new mode of transportation.

A total of 10 companies will be involved in the pilot program, which will last through early fall, according to the city of Chicago. During that time, approximately 2,500 scooters will be available for use in the city, but their usage will be tightly restricted.

Here are some of the answers to questions residents will likely have about the devices:

How Will the E-Scooter Program Work?

Much like Divvy bikes, residents will have to download mobile apps in order to use shareable scooters, but unlike the Divvy program, there will be numerous companies operating the devices. Residents will have to use the appropriate mobile app to use a scooter in its designated area.

When Can I Use an E-Scooter?

Scooters will only be permitted to operate between the hours of 5 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Where Can I Find E-Scooters?

Scooters can be found in their own designated service areas, and the devices will be “geo-fenced” to prevent them from operating outside of those set parameters. The borders of each device’s usage area will be defined by the company.

What Areas Will be Served by the Pilot Program?

According to a map provided by the city of Chicago, the West and Northwest sides of the city will be served by scooters. The boundaries of the area are West Irving Park Road on its northern edge, the North Branch of the Chicago River and North Halsted on the east, South Cicero Avenue on the south, and the city limits on the western side.

What Will Companies Have to Do to Operate Scooters?

Companies must remove scooters if they’re parked in unapproved spaces (scooters can only be parked where bicycles can legal be parked), and will have to pick up scooters if they are out past 10 p.m.

The city says that scooters must be parked upright, and with a minimum six feet of clearance between the scooters and “public way encumbrances,” according to a fact sheet.

A Scooter is Illegally Parked. What Do I Do?

According to the city, contact information will be available on each scooter, and companies must move scooters that are illegally parked within two hours. That restriction is in effect 24 hours a day, seven days a week during the pilot program.

When Will the Pilot Program End?

The program will start Saturday and end on Oct. 15. After that date, the city will evaluate how much money the scooters generated, whether any problems were caused by the availability of scooters, and whether the program should continue.

For more information, and for a map of the service area, residents are encouraged to visit the city of Chicago’s E-Scooter informational website.

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