Cincinnati’s Department of Transportation & Engineering extended the previously-set curfew for scooter riders from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Now, riders can operate an e-scooter from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The scooters previously had been operational until 11 p.m., making them convenient for patrons to use near nightlife or after events. City officials announced the 6 p.m. curfew on April 25, citing safety concerns, underage riding and “criminal activities.”
The decision to roll the curfew forward by three hours was made during Cincinnati City Council’s Aug. 2 Public Safety & Governance Committee meeting.
Representatives from both Lime and Bird testified to the steps each company has taken to address the safety issues that prompted the 6 p.m. curfew.
Demand for scooters remained steady during the curfew.
Lime’s director of community and government relations Lee Foley told committee members demand for trips on their scooters was high during the barred hours. Since April, more than 44,000 people opened the Lime app between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., but were met with locked scooters.
“This number also corresponds to the number of trips we see daily,” Foley told committee members. “So, at about 2,000 trips per day, that means what we’re seeing for app opens, for unmet demand, are the people who typically take our trips into the city for either commuting or recreational purposes are not able to return home because of the curfew.”
Lime and Bird promised committee members a stronger regulation of safety precautions, including riding rules and educational quizzes for riders about pedestrian safety and parking.
The current rules require riders to operate the scooters in bike lanes or go with the flow of traffic, avoiding sidewalks and obeying all street signs and traffic lights. Users must also park their scooter in a designated location after ending each ride.
Lime proposes new steps towards sidewalk safety.
Lime said it will continue working with the city to provide data on how many riders are illegally riding on sidewalks, and where sidewalk riding takes place most. The partnership is supposed to inform the city’s infrastructure planning for protected bike lanes. The app will also warn riders who spend too much time on sidewalks with a push notification after their ride ends. Foley told council there is the potential for technology that would stop the scooter from being able to operate on the sidewalk, but said that could pose an issue for safety, especially in downtown spaces where GPS could be less effective.
Repeat offenders of Lime or Bird’s rules will be hit with a series of fines ranging from $10 to $25 before the app suspends the user for good. Foley said Lime is able to share data with Bird about users who are banned so both apps can de-platform the rider.
Sorry, kids. You must be 18 to ride.
The companies are working to put new measures in place to curb underage riding. Riders must prove they are at least 18 years old by uploading a picture of a photo ID — either a driver’s license or state-issued picture ID — in order to start a trip. In time, the Lime app may require users to confirm the ID belongs to the rider with a selfie, but Lime wants that requirement to be applied to both companies. Foley says testing this method in markets where Bird does not share the second step of adding a selfie forced many Lime users to switch to Bird.
The ID requirement also puts adults without a proper photo ID at a disadvantage; something Foley said the company addressed in their New York market by allowing riders with a City Key (an identification program often used by people who are undocumented) to operate a scooter.
If Cincinnati scooter users can ride responsibly over the next 60 days, the city said it will consider returning the scooter curfew back to 11 p.m. The committee will be using the stats from the previous curfew period as a baseline to judge riders for the next 60 days.
The competing companies launched the app-rented scooters in Cincinnati in 2018. In CityBeat's 2019 Best of Cincinnati issue, staff writers called the scooters the "best new option for getting around, love 'em or hate 'em."