Chicago’s four-month electric scooter trial reaches 675,000 rides

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Figures released by the City of Chicago show its e-scooter trial has clocked 675,000 rides since its launch in June.

With the four-month trial due to finish on October 15, the numbers reveal a consistently strong demand for the service – with 11,000 rides taken in its first weekend alone.

In June, 10 companies were each granted permission to place 250 scooters in a 50-square-mile (130km2) geofenced zone in west Chicago, subject to a strict monitoring process by the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP).

The maximum speed of each e-scooter is 15mph (24km/h) and providers are only allowed to operate from 5am to 10pm.

Rosa Escareno, BACP commissioner said: “We have been proactively enforcing strict regulations and engaging regularly with the companies throughout the pilot, and will continue to do so over the last month.”

Some 39 citations carrying a maximum US$1,000 (£807) fine have been incurred by providers for so far, with only one of the 10 companies, Lyft (which also operate the city’s Divvy bike-share service), yet to be issued a warning.

Issues such as not responding to complaints within two hours, not submitting accurate and complete data to the city and failing to collect scooters at night were among the most common reasons for citations being issued.

As the pilot enters its final weeks, the city is now calling for feedback on the pros and cons of the experiment, both from riders and residents.

Isaac Reichman, director of public information at Chicago’s BACP, said: “The general feedback we’ve received from the public so far has certainly been mixed, people have very strong opinions one way or the other – both positive and negative.

“But on the whole it’s improved over the course of the pilot, and now we’re encouraging folks to reach out and let us know what they think.”

As with other cities, safety has been a big issue during the trial and the city has requested local health authorities to track e-scooter related accidents and injuries. While some of the 10 companies have provided helmets to users, this is not a legal requirement in Chicago.

“We modelled this trial on our bike-share programme, where it’s not actually a requirement – that being said we strongly encourage folks to wear helmets,” added Reichman.