CDOT and BACP Announce Application Process is Underway for Scooter Sharing Program to Launch in Spring
New program will allow shared e-scooters Citywide, require lock-to technology and restrict sidewalk riding
Mike Claffey 312.744.0707 Michael.Claffey@cityofchicago.org
Elisa Sledzinska, BACP 312.744.1973 | firstname.lastname@example.org
CHICAGO – The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) today launched the application process for a shared electric scooter license that will permit up to three companies to operate in Chicago. The license that was authorized by the City Council following two, four-month-long shared scooter pilots, is expected to launch in the spring with up to 3,000 devices initially. Operating companies will be required to employ technology that can detect and reduce people riding e-scooters on sidewalks. The devices will be allowed on streets citywide, but not on the Lake Front Trail, 606/Bloomingdale Trail, Chicago Riverwalk or the O’Hare Airport area.
“CDOT and our partners at BACP have conducted two pilot projects that tested whether shared electric scooters are a viable addition to the mobility landscape in Chicago. We’ve learned that an effectively managed e-scooter program can provide an affordable, convenient and environmentally friendly way for Chicagoans to get around,” said CDOT Commissioner Gia Biagi. “Working with the City Council, we passed an ordinance to stand up a two-year permit program last year. Shared e-scooters will provide mobility benefits throughout Chicago -- with an emphasis on serving areas that will benefit from new transportation options.”
“The new scooter sharing license will enable companies to operate scooter fleets in Chicago, according to license terms,” said BACP Commissioner Ken Meyer. “The two scooter pilot programs allowed us to thoughtfully evaluate scooters in Chicago to come up with a permanent structure for this new license. Through collaboration, and City Council approval, the license will ensure licensees put safety and equitable scooter distribution at the forefront of their business models.”
Applications from potential operating companies are due in February. City officials will select up to three companies to offer shared scooters this spring.
Potential operating companies will be ranked based on a number of criteria, including past performance, operational capacities, technology and capability to meet the City’s equity, environmental and safety standards.
The operating companies will be each licensed to offer up to 1,000 devices initially, and companies will be allowed to deploy additional devices if they meet specific ridership, safety, compliance and education requirements. The scooter sharing ordinance allows up to 12,500 total devices across all companies.
Among the key requirements of the program are the following:
- Companies must deploy scooters with cable-locking (“lock-to”) technology, requiring them to be locked to fixed objects such as bike racks, street signs or light poles at the end of a trip.
- Companies will be required to deploy technology that detects and reduces sidewalk riding.
- Companies will be required to deploy 50% of scooters to Equity Priority Areas covering many south and west side neighborhoods and totaling approximately 50% of the entire service area.
- Companies will be required to provide affordable access to shared scooters for low-income residents as well as non-credit-card-based access and non-smartphone-based access.
- Scooters will be allowed to operate between 5 a.m. and midnight and in bike lanes, paths or streets.
- Scooters will be allowed downtown in limited numbers in an effort to balance mobility benefits with parking space constraints.
- Companies will be required to educate scooter users on proper and safe use of the devices and to implement policies that encourage compliance with safety rules, including learn-to-ride classes and in-app education.
- Companies will face fines if they fail to remove improperly parked scooters within two hours of a complaint.
- At least 5% of each company’s devices must be accessible for riders with mobility limitations and must feature a seat at minimum.
- Companies must provide free or discounted helmets.
- The ordinance includes new consumer protection policies, including data privacy rules, prohibiting companies from charging fees while riders are completing education and prohibiting companies from requiring riders to pay in advance for more than one ride.
CDOT and BACP conducted two e-scooter pilots in 2019 and 2020 to test the viability of the service, to test technology and safety regulations and to develop an understanding of whether scooters provide a meaningful transportation option for Chicagoans. In October 2021, the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance that created a new business license category for scooter sharing companies. In addition to three scooter share vendors, the ordinance also allows CDOT to incorporate electric scooters the City’s Divvy bikeshare system.
For more information about the program, go to: www.chicago.gov/scooters