Electric scooters had a rough go in Dallas following their 2018 introduction. The “micro-mobility” options pissed off plenty and led to a spike in hospitalizations.
So in 2020, the two-wheeled vehicles were yanked from the streets. Critics pointed to cluttered sidewalks and argued that the devices posed serious public safety concerns.
Well, now the e-scooters are back, baby — with proponents hoping they’re here to stay.
Dallas’ Shared Dockless Vehicle Program officially returned on May 31 following a soft launch the week before. This time around, local leaders have updated restrictions and rules for a (hopefully) improved experience. But while some commuters have anxiously awaited the e-scooters’ revival, not everyone is a fan.
On May 31, then-Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Omar Narvaez discussed local scooter history during the program’s official relaunch.
“It was pretty scary. We had scooters all over the place,” he told reporters, according to KERA. “They looked like litter, and they were in trees. They were cut in half. They were thrown in rivers. And that was a problem.”
Still, some research indicates that certain residents want them back.
Nearly 40% of respondents who took a Downtown Dallas Inc., survey last summer said they prefer to scooter, bike or walk around downtown, said Jennifer Scripps, DDI’s president and CEO. That number represents a 21% increase compared to a survey conducted four years earlier.
DDI hopes that the e-powered wheels will stay for good.
“They are a much-needed transportation alternative within our thriving Downtown community,” Scripps told the Observer via email.
Scripps said DDI worked in tandem with the city on revised rental regulations that are aimed at protecting pedestrians and riders alike. There are fewer scooters on the streets this time around, too.
The program’s rules include:
- Only three companies — Lime, Bird and Superpedestrian — can operate in Dallas.
- Certain areas, including some public spaces and parks, are considered no-ride and slow zones.
- The hours of operation for e-scooters run from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Dallas riders face a 20-mph speed limit and must be at least 16 years old.
- E-scooters and e-bikes have to be parked properly, such as in designated corrals.
DDI’s field operations team has counted a few dozen recent cases in which paths or streets were blocked by scooters, Scripps said. As of last week, fewer than a dozen reports had been made about sidewalk-riding-or-parking on DDI’s See Say app.
See here for some background. As the story notes, one of the downsides to the e-scooter experiment was the injury risk associated with them, which I daresay was largely a combination of inexperienced riders, a lack of dedicated lanes, and vehicle drivers who paid them no more attention than they pay bikes. Cars and trucks are by far the bigger hazard, but the scooters did incur their own havoc. We’ll see what we have learned from the experience.
It’s fascinating to me that while scooters have returned to Dallas and remain mainstays in Austin and San Antonio yet have never been on the map for Houston, though it did look like they were coming at one point. I don’t know if that’s a function of the scooter companies, the Mayor’s office, some other factor I don’t know about, or what. We’ve done a great job building out our bike lane infrastructure, which if given the choice between the two would have been an easy pick for me, but I’m still curious as to why it has played out this way and if that will ever change. I do agree with Ms Scripps, scooters ought to be a part of at least the downtown mobility environment. What do you think?