Scooters have returned to city streets and disability rights activists are keeping an eye out, to make sure sidewalks aren’t improperly blocked.
Minneapolis officials are working with the scooter companies Lyft and Bird to provide up to 2,500 of the scooters. St. Paul is working with Lime and Bird for 1,000 scooters.
The electric scooters are praised as a convenient option for people who was use an app to grab a quick ride. But the scooters are all too often left in piles on sidewalks, blocking access for people with disabilities.
In Minneapolis, a requirement is that scooters be locked to bike racks so they won’t clutter the sidewalks has caused debate between city officials and scooter company representatives. Bird and Lyft asked for more time. But Spin, a third company that didn’t win a city contract, said it could have locking scooters in place now. Spin had one of the city’s scooter contracts in 2019 but wasn’t awarded a contract this year.
The amended proposal allows the city to add more vendors if Bird or Lyft can’t supply enough scooters with the locking feature.
Last year Minneapolis city offices received 356 parking complaints related to scooters. Those complaints, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, forced changes in both twin cities as to have scooters are regulated. Minneapolis was also sued over the issue of scooters obstructing sidewalks, with that court case centered on access issues for people with disabilities.
(Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune)