Starting May 13, electric scooters have returned to the streets of Minneapolis. The city green-lit contracts with four network operators, Jump, Lime, Lyft, and Spin, and as of May 13, Lime and Spin are operating in the city. Jump is a brand of Uber Technologies Inc. and Spin is owned by Ford Motor Co.
Lime, Bird, and Spin were chosen for contracts by the City of St. Paul. Uber and Lyft are expanding their turf war from ride share to bike and scooter share, but neither was chosen for St. Paul.
I talked with a City of Minneapolis spokesperson about the current state of electric scooters in Minneapolis.
Currently Lime and Spin are operating (as of May 13th), the Lyft agreement is being finalized this week, and City staff are still working on final discussions with Jump. There is no intention to open up to other entrants at this point.
City of Minneapolis spokesperson, May 20, 2019
There has been some hiccups, however. On May 18 and 20, Spin scooters were not on the streets and none appeared in the operator’s app. Spin’s vibrant orange scooters have returned on some days. As of this writing, May 25, there were no Spin scooters available in the app.
The second year of electric scooters is still a learning year for many riders and the city.
According to the Minneapolis Public Works scooter website, scooter riders must abide by the same laws governing bikes.
However, dicey street traffic has led many scooter riders to use sidewalks as the primary right-of-way. Anecdotally, it appears the majority of scooter riders do not wear helmets, which are required by some operator contracts.
Lyft and Jump should be hitting the streets of Minneapolis in the next few weeks. Watch this space for updates on electric scooters, the future of mobility, and all things streets.
Have you ridden an electric scooter this year? What model or brand of scooter is your favorite to ride? Share your discoveries and thoughts in the comments.
Where in the heck is Bird? I haven’t seen them on Saint Paul streets yet this year. I liked their scooters better than the Lime and Spin versions.
They were not selected in the city’s RFQ process. Per a city statement,
“To be considered for participation in the 2019 pilot, vendors submitted responses to an RFQ which included specific questions to evaluate how well the vendor aligns with requirements and goals of the pilot. After evaluation of RFQ responses, there were four vendors who submitted proposals that met City goals, including JUMP, Lyft, Spin, and Lime. The evaluation did not include consideration for participating in the 2018 pilot in Minneapolis. Bird’s responses to questions related to climate, equity, and prosperity goals were below expectations.”
I like how NiceRide MN is still gonna do its weird dockless docking docked dockless thing even when scooters are everywhere.
Spin’s iOS app lamely demands location tracking be set to “always on” (as opposed the sensible “only when using app” setting) whether or not one is using their scooters.
Thanks for the rundown, Conrad!
Lime scooters seem much more plentiful in North Minneapolis (especially compared to NIceRide, yikes) which is good to see.
I have been seeing a ton of them around Powderhorn and Corcoran. Especially in the afternoons after South high gets out.
They look like fun and people are riding them in the side streets, like skateboards.
I’ve been looking out for parking issues and really haven’t seen many.
Agreed. It seems like if there’s a recent and greater not-car threat to our sidewalks and paths, it’s the ridiculous placement of NiceRide not-dock hubs.
“Anecdotally, it appears the majority of scooter riders do not wear helmets, which are required by some operator contracts.”
I don’t think I’ve seen one yet. I know the idea is for liability protection if you get the idea to sue them if you slip and bonk your head, but it’s not like people are carrying riding helmets around in their pockets and purses wherever they go in case they wind up using a scooter.
Same with Nice Ride, I found helmet use by bike share was less than 10% (compared to 40% for all users on city streets and more like 60-70% of all users on off-road trails), and I think even that may be high because I saw a large organized group of about 20, all with helmets, that may have skewed the data.
I saw one yesterday, but yeah, it was notable.
Does “scooters can be parked at or near bike racks” mean they should/must be parked near bike racks?
I was in San Diego in March and they have at least four different scooter operators there. To be honest, it becomes a bit of an eyesore when they are left all over the place. Coronado Island doesn’t allow them and it was noticeably less cluttered feeling.
Also, many people I saw riding the scooters, especially at Balboa Park, were well under 18, some closer to 9.
Clarification regarding scooter vendors operating in Saint Paul: The City received 3 responses to their RFP from Lime, Spin, and Bird. Lyft and Jump did not respond to the Saint Paul RFP and have not expressed interest in entering the Saint Paul market. The city notified Lime, Spin, and Bird that they were selected through the RFP process. Agreements have been finalized with Lime and Spin. No agreement has been reached with Bird. Saint Paul is prepared to welcome up to 4 vendors in 2019 and prospective vendors may apply at any time.
Just what we need, more obstacles while driving downtown. As if it’s not difficult enough navigating, with bikers and their right-of-way ammunity, taxis and ubers who just don’t get it, the endless roadwork, and the endless residential construction.
Now this? I don’t see a long life line here for these mini weapons. Once they certainly prove to be a detriment, and/or serious injury results, they will be thrown to the scrap heap where they belong.
The scooter-idea is cute on paper, but it’s just not realistic with the current landscape downtown. Especially when we’re already transitioning to hands-free devices to promote safety. This scooter novelty thing is exactly that, and I think it’s motives are selfish. Throw safety to the wayside, so individuals can have that “Minneapolis Experience”? Sure.
Not every mode of transportation should be catered to drivers. In fact, having more people use the scooters will mean fewer people driving and less traffic for you.
How is a scooter a weapon? It is made to get one from one place to another. By that logic, a car is a much much more dangerous weapon, but we are all ok with having those on the road.
Do scooters really replace car trips? I suspect most scooter users would otherwise just walk since most of the scooters are downtown.
I can’t tell you the share of car trips the scooters replace, but they do replace at least some. This report said that many people surveyed about the electric scooters do view them as a way to replace a short car trip.
As someone who works downtown and walks around downtown, I fully support any and all obstacles to driving downtown. And I’m not worried about “weaponized scooters” yet weaponized motor vehicles routinely kill a downtown pedestrian at least a few times a year.