Dallas pulls plug on rental scooters, ending mobility alternative Houston did not even try

putri titian

Tis better to have scootered and stopped than to have never scootered at all. Dallas pulls plug on rental scooters, ending mobility alternative Houston did not even try A man rides an electronic scooter with a mask on along the Brays Bayou Greenway Trail on June 18, 2020, at Hermann […]

Tis better to have scootered and stopped than to have never scootered at all.

That is the consensus of a handful of Houston proponents of rental scooters as they watched Dallas this week order companies to pull the devices from local streets, citing crime and other issues with their use.

Loading...

Load Error

“We have received complaints about scooters and would like to make substantial changes to the scooter program,” said Dallas Transportation Director Mike Rogers, in a statement. “The changes will include public safety considerations so that the city may have safe modes of alternative transportation.”

Companies have flooded some cities with scooters people can rent by the minute with a smartphone app, part of a growing micro-mobility movement. Users can grab a scooter, motor to wherever they are going within a few blocks or miles and simply leave the scooter for the next person. Advocates say the scooters reduce car travel while making moving outdoors in inhospitable places — like scorching Texas — possible.

Critics call the scooters mobile clutter, complaining they crowd sidewalks and pose a safety hazard to pedestrians and riders.

That is the point Dallas hit earlier this week. City officials told Bird, Spin, Jump and any other companies still out there to cease operations on Wednesday and remove all the scooters by Friday, bringing an end to a popular but contentious debate about dockless devices and local transportation, for now.

It is a debate Houston mostly has avoided simply by doing nothing. Regulations in Houston make deploying the scooters murky at best — much as companies such as Uber and Lyft began operating in a cloud of uncertainty related to taxi rules. The consensus was Houston’s regulations would need to be changed before scooters hit the streets for rent.

Houston was an outlier in Texas in not having scooters. Dallas and Austin were both fertile markets for the devices, at least until COVID significantly upended the business and some of the companies collapsed or cut back. San Antonio finalized its agreement with the companies in January after 10 months of public discussion, allowing Razor and Bird to deploy up to 1,000 scooters each.

Though the rental companies are locked out here, some Houstonians have purchased their own scooters.

The city meanwhile never wrote the laws, despite laying the groundwork three years ago for some rule changes. Then-Houston Councilman Larry Green, chairman of the city’s transportation, technology and infrastructure committee, said he was hopeful the city could have rules in place by mid-2018 allowing dockless rental bikes and possibly scooters in addition to the existing B-Cycle system of kiosk-based bicycle rentals.

Green, however, died of a drug overdose at his home in March 2018 and the proposal never returned to City Council.

While Houston has avoided the safety and other issues related to the scooters, supporters of the devices said they have suffered.

“At least you get to try them and, maybe, build support for integrating them,” wrote Nathiel Barrett, a Dallas developer, in a Twitter thread on Dallas’ decision and Houston’s reluctance. “Never allowing them means never getting to experience the pros/cons.”

Potential riders said they would jump at the chance to hop on.

“I think they’re cool, and it’s a shame we don’t have them,” said Carlton Swisher, 31, who lives in Montrose. “A lot of cities do.”

Houston officials said scooter regulations remain possible, but are not a high priority compared to such efforts as Vision Zero to eliminate roadway deaths. .

“The city’s focus right now is on implementing Vision Zero and adding bike lanes across the city,” said Maria Irshad, deputy director of the city’s Administration and Regulatory Affairs Department. “At this time, a program is not under consideration but we are studying it and trying to figure out how it could safely work.”

Officials also are working through a number of transportation-related rule changes, including specific prohibitions and greater enforcement of illegal parking in bike lanes.

Meanwhile, use of Houston’s B-Cycle system is booming during the pandemic as bike-sharing officials ready for more expansion, including 100 new e-bikes that bring their own challenges related to trail safety.

The new bikes, part of an agreement with Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, add a new way to travel for some, but complicate use of motorized vehicles on city sidewalks and trails. In some cases, the bikes are not allowed on bayou trails, though conventional bicycles are.

[email protected]

Continue Reading

Source Article

Next Post

Hyperloop will revolutionize transportation in post-coronavirus world

Even though hyperloop capsules can reach speeds of 760 miles per hour, on a practical level, this transportation sector appears to be stalled. Nearly all high-density transportation, from airlines to bullet trains, has come to a near halt amid the worst pandemic in a hundred years. Amtrak cars are deserted, […]