DOT wants to extend pilot program for scooters as two new dockless companies come on board

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Bird scooters. Image via Facebook.

The Baltimore Department of Transportation is seeking to extend the pilot program for dockless vehicles into the spring, as two new companies plan to bring their electric rides to city streets.

An item in the agenda for Wednesday’s Board of Estimates meeting calls for extending the plan through April 30, which has been agreed to by Bird and approved by the city’s law department.

Subsequent items asks the approval to add dockless Spin scooters and dockless JUMP bicycles to the city’s fleet of rentable two-wheelers.

Kathy Dominick, public relations officer for DOT, told Baltimore Fishbowl the new companies will enter the same agreement as Bird and Lime, paying a fee of $15,000 and $1 per vehicle per day. All the companies are limited to 1,000 vehicles per type.

A spokesperson with Bird said the company is “thrilled” the pilot program has been extended.

“We are encouraged with the progress we’ve made thus far in helping Baltimore replace short car trips with our emissions-free option,” the spokesperson said. “Bird hopes to remain a close partner to city officials and staff as they contemplate the long-term future of e-scooters for Baltimore.” 

Representatives from Lime did not immediately return a request for comment. As for the new entrants in the vehicle-sharing world, JUMP did not respond to a request for comment, while Spin replied, “We plan to launch next week with a small fleet.”

Per TechCrunch, Spin started out as a bike-share company start-up but eventually added scooters and, later, decided to go all-in on them. Auto giant Ford bought the company late last year for close to $100 million, according to Axios.

Like Lime, JUMP has both electronic-powered scooters and bicycles with electric-assist technology. That company was founded by the ride-sharing service Uber.

The city is still grappling with how to regulate the scooters and bikes. Bird pretty much dropped its vehicles on city sidewalks last summer with little notice. Following the demise of the city-affiliated bike-share program operated by Bewegen, the city launched the pilot agreement with Bird and Lime.

Draft legislation to regulate the rides was widely criticized for its harsh penalties, including a proposed 30-day jail sentence for breaking speed limits. A department official later told The Sun that DOT would amend the proposal.

Dominick today told Baltimore Fishbowl the department will share a preview of the rules and regulations in its Pilot Evaluation Report.

Brandon Weigel

Brandon Weigel

Brandon Weigel is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. A graduate of the University of Maryland, he has been published in The Washington Post, The Sun, Baltimore Magazine, Urbanite, The Baltimore Business Journal, b and others. Prior to joining Baltimore Fishbowl, he was an editor at City Paper from 2012 to 2017. He can be reached at [email protected]
Brandon Weigel


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