New rules proposed by the city Department of Transportation would limit electric scooter use around the Inner Harbor and the city’s stadiums and require them to be deployed in more city neighborhoods.
Dockless scooter vendors would have to cap speeds at 8 mph along the Inner Harbor promenade from Federal Hill to Canton and prohibit riding at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium. They also would be required to deploy scooters to 20 “equity zone” locations.
The rules also would limit the number of scooter vendors to four. Four companies — Bird, Lime, Spin and JUMP — currently operate in the city. Each would be required to participate in a competitive application process and attend a minimum of four public meetings to operate in the city permanently.
“The proposed rules and regulations are a necessary step in our long-term plan to manage the future of a thriving dockless program in Baltimore,” said Frank Murphy, acting transportation director, in a statement. “With this approach, we are making great strides to ensure that all citizens across the city have easy access to equitable transportation.”
The proposed regulations for dockless scooters and bicycles in Baltimore will go before the City Council for a vote Monday evening and are expected to pass, according to the council president’s office.
The prohibition on riding at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium — and their parking lots — was requested by the Maryland Stadium Authority, said German Vigil, a Department of Transportation spokesman. It will be enforced by geo-fencing, which turns off a scooter when it enters a certain area, he said.
“It was a safety concern about vehicles moving and scooters moving across the parking lot,” Vigil said.
The city reached out to other entities with large parking lots to check whether they had similar concerns, he said, and may ask scooter companies to geo-fence other areas.
Officials considered requiring a geo-fence that would turn off scooters at the harbor’s edge, but they decided that limiting speeds to 8 mph, instead of the scooters’ 15 mph general speed limit, was “a fair compromise” that would allow people to ride safely in the promenade, which has some of the city’s heaviest foot traffic.
Riding on the harbor promenade is allowed between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m., said Meg Young, the city’s shared mobility coordinator.
The regulations codified into law by the City Council prohibit riding on a sidewalk “unless the posted speed on the abutting public right-of-way is 30 miles per hour or greater and the speed of the e-bike or e-scooter on the sidewalk does not exceed 6 miles per hour.”
The official who oversaw the dockless electric scooter pilot program and the Baltimore Bike Share shutdown has resigned from the city Department of Transportation, citing “a work environment of bullying, intimidation, and outright harassment, originating from the highest level of leadership.”
Young said the dockless scooter pilot program has been “a great success.”
“We wouldn’t have moved from a pilot to a permanent program if we didn’t think so,” Young said. “We’re hoping these rules and regulations are going to help us minimize the issues people did have during the pilot and help set a good precedent going forward.”
The city is in the process of establishing “a first-rate environment for shared micromobility," said Stephen Deline, Baltimore operations manager at Lime, in a statement. “These regulations lay out a sound framework for improving how Baltimore residents move around their city, while prioritizing equity and clean energy options.”
By creating an official scooter-sharing program to oversee and regulate the companies’ operations, Baltimore is “more permanently integrat[ing] shared e-scooters into its transportation network,” Bird spokeswoman McKenzie Long said in a statement.
“Bird looks forward to working closely with our city partners while this process progresses, as we are eager to continue serving the people of Baltimore who have come to rely on our innovative, environmentally friendly service,” she said.
Spin and JUMP did not respond to a request for comment.