Scooters will be on the streets of Durham soon, with rules for how they can be used.
The City Council unanimously approved an ordinance regulating electric scooters Monday night and will begin accepting permit applications from companies in mid-November.
“Realistically, we won’t be seeing scooters until 2019,” transportation planner Bryan Poole said.
Bird, a California-based company, is ready to deploy at least 100 scooters in Durham as soon as the permitting process goes through.
It will cost $1,000 for a permit, then $500 to renew it next year. There’s no cap on the number of scooters, but companies must pay $100 per scooter on the street. If the city has to relocate a device, that will cost the companies another $50 each time.
Servando Esparza of Bird, who was at the council meeting, said after the vote that the $100 per scooter fee is higher than other cities, but the company still wants to come to Durham. Esparza said Bird typically starts with 100 scooters in a city.
“We tend to start with a number, and grow with demand,” Esparza said. “In a larger city like Durham, it will be more than that.”
Lime is interested, too
Bird and Lime have scooters in Raleigh now, though the Raleigh City Council has not passed any regulations yet. Raleigh is scheduled to discuss scooter rules Tuesday.
Lime won’t say yet when its scooters will arrive in Durham.
“We have been in conversations with the city and are eager to provide new mobility options in Durham in the near future, but have no further updates to share at this time,” said Alex Youn of Lime on Monday night.
But earlier on Monday, council member Charlie Reece saw two Lime scooters on a Durham street, he told city staff in an email.
Lime responded to the city that one of the company’s “juicers” likely deployed them near his or her house by mistake after charging vehicles collected in Raleigh, and would track down the scooters. Lime said the company would not “actively deploy” in Durham until working out an agreement.
Rules for scooter riders
Under the rules passed Monday night, riders must:
▪ Be at least 16 years old and wear a helmet. Bird scooters require riders to be 18.
▪ Follow traffic laws.
▪ Not ride on sidewalks.
▪ Not ride on greenway trails.
The new ordinance covers bike shares, too, not just scooters, and requires bikes to be moved so they are not parked in the same location for more than a week. Scooters can’t stay in the same parking spot for more than three days.
The city is also requiring scooter companies to deploy them in low and moderate income areas of Durham, too, not just downtown. Durham also requires scooters and bike shares to “reduce barriers to low income persons to rent its shared devices by providing diverse payment options, including options for persons with neither a smart phone nor a credit card to rent its shared device.”
The council also wants Spanish-speaking scooter riders to be able to use them.
April Byrd of Bird told the Durham City Council earlier this month that the mobile app for Bird will be in the primary language used on a person’s smartphone. That means Spanish if the person’s phone is set to Spanish language. On Monday night, council members said they want riders to be able to use a Faith ID, passport or matricula consular, a Mexican identification card — not just a driver’s license — to rent scooters, too. Byrd said Bird is still looking into other ways to process an ID.
Esparza said it would take time to find a way to implement it.
Reece said while they passed the ordinance, it’s still the beginning of the conversation.
“We look forward to seeing what else you can do to make sure more of our residents can enjoy these devices,” Reece said.