Raleigh doubles proposed fees to $300 per electric scooter

Raleigh leaders have finally agreed to a set of rules that will allow electric scooters within the city but that will double the proposed fees for the vehicles.

At the urging of Raleigh City Council member Dickie Thompson, the city council voted to increase the fee from $150 per scooter to $300 per scooter.

“If everything is done according to this document it’s going to take a lot of administrative staff time and also police officer time,” he said. “I think this is what I based the number on. And I don’t want anyone at the table to forget they’ve used this city for three or four months for absolutely free without asking anybody anything.”

The per scooter fee had already been increased from $100 to $150 per scooter at the request of Thompson, who said the scooter “problem is out of control” in a previous meeting. He’d originally wanted the scooters, which arrived this summer without permission or coordination from the city, to be banned.

Other cities vary with their scooter fees but most fall within $25 to $100 with $130 on the high end, said Raleigh Transportation Director Michael Moore.

The two scooter companies — Lime and Bird — said the original $150 fee per scooter was already on the high end.

The rules also limit the number of scooters that will be permitted within the city. The total cap is 1,500 scooters with a 500 cap per company. Bird has 1,300 scooters in use, while Lime has about 250 in operation.

If both companies agree to the rules and put out the max allowed scooters, it would result in more than $300,000 for the city.

That money would be used to enforce the city’s new rules. And the numbers could be changed after the encroachment agreement ends on July 31. After that new companies would be invited to apply to work within the city.

“In order to make our scooter program successful, we have to make it safe for our citizens,” Thompson said. “I am all for making it safe. I would like to see the scooters be successful. (But) we have to get it to where our citizens feel comfortable with them being here, get them off the sidewalks, stop children from riding these things without helmets and that will go a long way to making it successful.”

Riders are able to unlock the scooters for $1 and rides cost about 15 cents per minute. Both scooter companies require riders to have a helmet, ride on the streets and park the scooters out of the way. The scooters are picked up at night by “chargers” or “juicers” to be charged and then are placed back out on the street the next day.

Council member Nicole Stewart, who has been a vocal supporter of the scooters, asked if instead of a cap on the number of scooters there could be a “rider-utilization” benchmark that could be used. For example, scooters would need to be removed if they fail to receive more than 3 rides per day.

Council did agree to change the hours of when scooters could be dropped off from 6 a.m. to 5 a.m. The rules also require the scooter companies to have a local employee who would be required to move scooters within two hours at the city’s request.

The draft agreement with scooter companies prevented scooters from being parked on streets that didn’t have sidewalks, but that was amended to allow the scooters to be parked within two feet of the curb.

Other rules in the agreement include:

  • The scooters must “local, state and federate standards for manufacture, safety, financial responsibility and registration.”

  • 20 percent of the scooters will be in city-described “communities of concern” and the companies must submit a plan “to reduce barriers to low-income” people.

  • Barring scooters from being parked on sidewalks that are less than five feet in width, within 100 feet of any school zone, in areas that interfere with building access, bus zones and public benches, in driveways and curb ramps.

  • Companies not putting out more than four scooters on a block face.

  • Sharing company issued customer survey, wrecks, maintenance, vehicle locations and parking with the city.

  • The scooters having a unique ID number that law enforcement officers can use and “no riding on sidewalk” on the scooters.

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer