3 companies eye electric scooter rentals for Dayton; city OKs new rules

Three companies have expressed interest in bringing electric scooter rentals to Dayton, and some elected leaders believe they will arrive this spring, possibly any day now.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said companies Bird, Lime and Spin approached or contacted city leaders about potentially expanding their services locally.

Whaley said Bird reached out last fall to give the city a head’s up that it was hoping to offer its electric-powered scooters for rent in the near future.

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In the past, Bird dropped its scooters into cities without prior warning, leading to some fights over liability and controversy about rules of their operation and parking.

But on Wednesday, Dayton city commissioners approved legislation that imposes new rules on electric-motorized devices and the companies that rent them out.

“Normally, these services get launched in a city, and the cities aren’t prepared,” said Martin Gehres, Dayton assistant city attorney.

Dayton commissioners approved ordinances that amend and add new city laws to govern electric-powered transportation devices, including scooters, bikes, unicycles, skates and hover boards.

The new rules and regulations seek to prevent the kind of problems other cities across the country have had when companies drop electric scooters and other devices on their streets, Gehres said.

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More than 100 U.S. cities have electric scooters and similar devices available for rent.

Customers use a mobile phone app to locate the scooters and activate them. The scooters usually are dockless, meaning they can be left anywhere and tracked using built-in GPS.

Customers pay to rent the scooters. When they arrive at their destination, they can just leave them on the street for the next customer to find with the app.

The city of Dayton has created some restrictions on how and where electric scooters and other devices can be parked.

Electric scooters and other devices will be barred from operating on the sidewalk, except in order to park. They will be required to have lighting and will not be allowed to travel faster than 15 mph.

Generally, the regulations will treat electric transportation devices like bicycles when it comes to the rules of the road, city officials said.

Groups that rent scooters and electric transportation devices will have to apply for permits to operate in the city of Dayton. They will have to comply with rules such as removing rental scooters by night fall or risk having them confiscated and impounded.

Operators will have to pay a service fee and a daily fee for every electric scooter or transportation device that is available for rent.

Whaley said she appreciated the advanced notice that scooters might be coming so the city could prepare.

“In other cities, they just landed, so we’re glad for that,” she said.

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