Governor Tony Evers signed a bill into law today that paves the way for electric scooters in Wisconsin.
For Milwaukee, that likely means in an influx of app-based rental scooters — which have flooded other cities over the past year or so. But here in Madison, officials aren’t so sure about them.
The bipartisan bill Evers signed into law in Milwaukee today regulates motorized scooters in Wisconsin, paving the way for app-based rentals in the state.
“Electric scooters can improve access to low-cost transportation options, actually reduce single occupancy vehicle use, and can serve as the first and last mile solution to residents and visitors all across the state,” Evers said.
The city of Milwaukee sued one of the biggest scooter rental companies, Bird Rides Inc., last year for operating in the city without state regulations.
This bill limits the size of scooters to 100 pounds and sets the speed limit for the vehicles at 15 miles per hour. It also gives municipalities the ability to limit their use on streets and sidewalks and to ban public rental companies like Bird altogether.
That’s exactly what the city of Madison has already done. A city ordinance from last year requires the city run a pilot study of the scooters before any rental company sets up shop here.
But Mayor Satya Rhodes- Conway says based on the data she’s seen from other cities, she’s not sold on letting the companies operate in Madison.
There have been multiple high profile injuries and even fatalities related to the app-based rentals in other cities.
“I’m just really concerned about the safety issues,” Rhodes-Conway said. “That’s my concern, is safety. If we can learn from other cities about how to safely roll these things out, I’m open to that. But absolutely first thing is we have to make sure people are not going to severely injure themselves.”
The app-based rental companies let users drop off the scooters wherever they want, rather than using dock systems like bike rental companies such as BCycle, which operates here in Madison. Critics say that means users sometimes leave the scooters in the middle of the street, creating a hazard for pedestrians.
Rhodes-Conway says that’s another concern for bringing the scooters to Madison.
“There’s concerns about where are they going to be, can you go on the sidewalks, are they going to be just left lying around the public space, which has happened in other cities,” Rhodes-Conway says. “Those are the things that we would have to figure out how to manage if we were to roll them out here.”
The legislation goes into effect on Wednesday, and Milwaukee is set to vote on a pilot study for the rental companies tomorrow.