Wichita City Council to discuss electric scooter rules

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Bird electric scooters parked in Kansas City Bird electric scooters parked in Kansas City

The Wichita City Council plans to discuss proposed rules and regulations surrounding electric scooters coming to the city. 

Wichitans could be zooming around Wichita as soon as August, but there are a few more steps before they roll out. 

This includes changes in the ordinance, since electric scooters do not fall within the definition of a vehicle, motor vehicle or bicycle under current city law. 

In June 2018, elected officials were contacted by electric scooter companies interested in bringing scooters to town. 

Electric scooters are increasing in popularity, popping up in more than 100 cities, but the cities have seen issues with the scooters, including riders leaving them on public sidewalks causing a safety concern. 

In January 2019, information was presented about drafting an agreement and possible ordinance changes to avoid those problems. 

Presentations were made to several city boards including the Wichita Transit Advisory Board, Wichita Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board. 

All boards have endorsed the concept of an operating agreement, but understand the specific details are still being finalized. 

(Electric scooters could be coming to Wichita)

Proposals as presented in Tuesday's City Council Meeting Agenda: 

The proposed ordinance provides the following guidelines and will be discussed Tuesday morning:

    1. Scooters may be operated on streets with speed limits less than 40 mph, in designated bike lanes and on multi-use paths on City and Park-owned property. Users are subject to all traffic regulations when scooters are operated on streets and roadways. 

    2. Scooters may not be operated on public sidewalks.
    3. Registration and a driver's license are not required for operation of scooters. 
    4. Scooters are to be parked in such a manner as not to impede vehicle or pedestrian traffic.
    5. Law enforcement officers or others designated City officials may impound scooter, which are stolen or have been left on a sidewalk or on public property and constitute a traffic or pedestrian hazard.
    6. Ordinances are clarified regarding the proper operation of motorized skateboards. 
    7. Section 11.24.040 is amended to clarify that a speeding violation is a traffic infraction and not a misdemeanor. 

As the scooter companies get started in Wichita, the following guidelines will be discussed as a proposed one-year operating agreement: 

    A. The scooter fleets must be at least 100 scooters, but not more than 500 scooters initially, with opportunities to increase the number of scooters based on use. 

    B. Multiple scooter companies can apply for permits; there is no limit on the number. 

    C. The scooter companies will provide a 24-hour customer service contact and website. 

    D. Each company will implement a marketing and outreach plan. 

    E. The scooter will become inoperable by dusk or 9 p.m., whichever is earlier. 

    F. The scooters will not operate at speeds greater than 15 mph.

    G. The City has the right to impound scooter, with a fee not to exceed $32 per scooter. 

    H. The companies agree to data sharing, specifies in the agreement. 

    I. The companies are required to pay an application fee of up to $1,000 and a fee of $.15 per ride. 
    J. The City has the right to terminate with 30-days' written notice. 

    K. The City can require the scooter companies to geo-fence/restrict scooter use in locations on an as needed basis.