Youths ride rental scooters on the Light Street sidewalk near Pratt Street at the Inner Harbor. The city's proposed new rules forbid riding scooters on sidewalks, except in certain circumstances.
Youths ride rental scooters on the Light Street sidewalk near Pratt Street at the Inner Harbor. The city's proposed new rules forbid riding scooters on sidewalks, except in certain circumstances. (Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)

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.

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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.”

Scooter law — with threat of jail time stripped out — wins preliminary approval from Baltimore City Council

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 DOT’s additional rules follow the approval of scooter regulations by the Baltimore City Council, which left many of the specifics up to the city’s director of transportation.

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.”

Official who oversaw scooter pilot program leaving Baltimore DOT, citing 'bullying, intimidation, and outright harassment'

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 DOT’s rules announced Tuesday also require:

» Scooter brakes with concealed brake wires.

» Front and rear lights that illuminate when the vehicle is in use.

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» An accessory known as a “speed governor,” which limits scooter speeds and enforces the geo-fence.

» No more than 1,000 and no fewer than 150 scooters per company.

» Relocation of vehicles that have not been ridden for five consecutive days.

» A penalty of $220 and $44 per scooter for impounded scooters after five scooters.

» Measures to provide multi-lingual and hearing-impaired service.

» Any marketing campaigns to “include a focus to promote the use of dockless sharing vehicles among low-income residents and residents who do not have access to a vehicle.”

The companies also would be required to deploy scooters in the following “equity zones”:

  1. Rogers Avenue Metro Station
  2. Reisterstown Plaza
  3. Park Heights and West Belvedere avenues
  4. York Road at Bellona Avenue
  5. E 33rd Street at Greenmount Avenue
  6. Harford Road at Hamilton Avenue
  7. Harford Road at Cold Spring Lane
  8. Belair Edison Main Street
  9. East North Avenue at Harford Road
  10. Northeast Market
  11. Library Square
  12. Cherry Hill Light Rail Station
  13. Patapsco Avenue
  14. Hollins Market
  15. Washington Boulevard
  16. Westside Shopping Center
  17. West Baltimore MARC Station
  18. McCulloh and West Preston streets
  19. Upton Metro Station
  20. Penn-North Metro Station

The companies would be required to survey their riders, as well as to fix any issues within 60 days. The full list of rules is available on the Department of Transportation’s website.

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.

The public has 30 days to share feedback. Comments can be emailed to dockless.bcdot@gmail.com, mailed to the department at 417 E. Fayette Street, 5th Floor, Room 559, Baltimore, Maryland 21202, or submitted in an online form at https://transportation.baltimorecity.gov/docklessrulesandregulations.

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