Baltimore approved agreements with Bird and Lime this week, allowing them to operate a six-month pilot program in the city while the transportation department studies how, and whether, to regulate the electric scooters and bikes.
We read through the agreements so you don’t have to. (But here they are, in case you want to.) Here are 10 main takeaways:
1. HOW MANY WILL THERE BE? Each company can place 1,000 of each type of vehicle, scooter or bike, on the streets. So, we could see as many as 2,000 scooters and another 1,000 bicycles. Bird is here already; Lime is expected to launch its fleet in the coming weeks.
2. WHERE CAN I RIDE THEM? They can be ridden on the street or in bicycle lanes, but are not allowed to be ridden on sidewalks.
3. WHERE CAN I PARK THEM? The bikes and scooters can be parked on streets, like motorcycles, or sidewalks — as long as they give pedestrians four feet of space and don’t impede the following:
» private property or driveways (without permission of the property owner)
» stairways, bus shelters, elevator entrances and other Maryland Transit Administration or city Department of Transportation assets
» Baltimore Bike Share stations (The empty docks remain around the city, although they were supposed to be removed by Aug. 17.)
» tree pits, planting boxes or planters
» street lanes or bike lanes
» designated, paid parking spaces
4. IS THERE AN AGE REQUIREMENT? The city requires all riders under age 16 to wear a helmet, although this is less relevant because neither company allows users younger than 16.
Bird requires users to be 18 or older, and Lime allows minors 16 or older to use the service only with a helmet and a parent/guardian’s permission.
5. WHAT EQUITY MEASURES ARE IN PLACE? The companies are required to offer discounted rides or monthly rates to low-income users and place a quarter of the bicycles and scooters each day in specific low-income neighborhoods:
» Poppleton/The Terraces/Hollins Market
» Oldtown/Middle East
» Cherry Hill
» Greenmount East
» Southwest Baltimore
» Southern Park Heights
» Madison/East End
» Sandtown-Winchester/Harlem Park
» Penn North/Reservoir Hill
» Brooklyn/Curtis Bay/Hawkins Point
» Greater Charles Village/Barclay
» Washington Village/Pigtown.
6. ANY RULES AGAINST OVERCROWDING? The agreements mandate than no more than three of the same type of vehicle can be placed in the same block. They require the companies to report the locations of their vehicles to the city Department of Transportation weekly, and move any overcrowded bikes or scooters within six hours of being reported.
7. HOW WILL THEFT AND VANDALISM BE HANDLED? This is the big question, given that it hampered Baltimore Bike Share — which couldn’t keep up with the ensuing maintenance backlog. Bird already has seen thefts and vandalism in Baltimore and in other cities where it operates.
Just like with overcrowding, the companies are required to remove broken vehicles within six hours of being reported, and they must report vandalism or theft to the city each week.
8. HOW MUCH IS THIS COSTING BALTIMORE? Instead of shelling out millions for a docked system often devoid of most of its bikes, the city will receive $15,000 from each company and a dollar a day per vehicle, which will go to the city’s general fund and be earmarked for bicycle and pedestrian initiatives.
9. OK, BUT WON’T THE CITY BE LIABLE WHEN SOMEONE CRASHES? The agreements indemnify the city from any payment or insurance liability in connection to the pilot program. Each company is required to have insurance of at least $1 million “for claims arising out of bodily injuries or death, and property damages.”
10. COULD OTHER BIKE/SCOOTER-SHARE COMPANIES COME TO BALTIMORE? The agreements leave the door open for Baltimore to add other dockless bike or scooter operators.
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“The City may enter into similar pilot agreements with other dockless business entities at its sole discretion and [Bird and Lime] shall take no action to interfere with any other dockless vehicle pilot programs that the City may institute,” the agreements say.