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Electric scooters are coming to Durham. What you need to know before they land.

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Popular Charlotte scooters are whizzing by. Here is what the companies tell the riders to keep them safe.
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Popular Charlotte scooters are whizzing by. Here is what the companies tell the riders to keep them safe.

Durham is about to join the electric scooter craze.

Four companies, Bird, Lime, Gotcha and Spin, will be allowed to bring up to 200 electric scooters each to the city starting Thursday, June 13.

“We are pleased that residents and visitors in Durham will have a new transportation option to try. Scooters can provide first- and last-mile connections to transit and serve residents who don’t have a car or prefer to drive less,” Interim Transportation Director Bill Judge said in a statement.

“Ultimately, this is one way we’re working to provide equitable, accessible, multi-modal transportation services that meets the needs of our growing community and consumer demands,” Judge said.

The length of the trip and each company’s policies will affect the cost of each ride, but Evan Tenenbaum with the city’s Department of Transportation says all companies charge $1 to initially unlock a scooter.

“We should have them throughout the central part of Durham, near downtown, NCCU, Duke, Ninth Street area, east Durham, etc.,” Tenenbaum said. “We will have a map on our website sometime next week for locations people can expect to find scooters parked in the mornings.”

The Durham City Council began preparing for electric scooters last fall. It approved a permitting process for scooters that eventually will also apply to other methods of transportation, like bicycles and electric bicycles.

The city requires scooter companies to keep 20% of their fleet in areas accessible to low- and moderate-income residents and to provide a payment method that doesn’t depend on smart phones or credit cards.

Riders, who must be older than 16 and are encouraged to wear helmets, are not allowed on sidewalks, according to the city’s rules.

According to Judge, Durham’s recent bike-share pilot program showed demand for alternative ways of getting around the city.

Over 61,000 trips were completed when the program was operating, with riders accumulating over 50,000 miles during the pilot period, according to a news release. The operators, Spin and Lime, removed their bikes earlier this year and are now focused on e-scooters, the release said.

What’s next

The city will hold a demonstration of the new electric scooters Tuesday, June 11, starting at 10 a.m. at the Durham Station Transportation Center, at 515 W. Pettigrew St. downtown.

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Shelbi Polk reports on K-12 education in Durham and Orange Counties for the News & Observer. She attended Texas A&M University and followed the crowds to Raleigh in 2018.
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