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Bloomington City Council Approves Electronic Scooter Ordinance

City Council discusses scooter amendments at City Hall

Bloomington City Council approves new scooter amendments Wednesday night at City Hall. (Joe Hren, WFIU/WTIU News)

New rules governing the use of scooters in Bloomington will take effect September 1.

Council members, a city attorney and representatives from Bird and Lime scooter companies debated the issue for hours Wednesday night.

Scooter parking will be permitted on sidewalks with more than ten limitations including leaving a clear pathway of at least four and half feet wide.

Councilmember Isabel Piedmont-Smith says the scooter companies would have pulled out if sidewalk parking wasn’t allowed.

“Furthermore, we’re not going to have to try to figure out where to put on street corrals all over the place to comply with the state law that says we have to supply approximate parking," Piedmont-Smith says.

But councilmember Allison Chopra voted no on every amendment saying councilmembers were adamant in previous meetings about protecting the sidewalks for the people who need and use them the most.

“We found out at the end of the meeting that the businesses threatened to leave… and now here we are talking about it again," Chopra says. "What does that say about us? What does that say?”

Other amendments require scooter riders to dismount a scooter if a person with a visual impairment approaches and when passing a pedestrian.

Another amendment allows riders to park on a city traffic or parking sign, as long as it’s not obstructing landscape plantings.

The city Parking Commission and Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Commission is charged with reviewing scooter parking downtown and reporting back to city council.

READ MORE: 1,800+ Residents Took Bloomington's Scooter Survey, Many Asked For Parking Areas

City attorney Michael Rouker says the city will be able to impose fines, require additional education, and remove users from the scooter apps if there are repeated violations.

The city can also restrict scooter access for locations prone to consistent violations.

"So that’s the hammer so to speak," Rouker says. "If this is not being addressed, we will force the scooter companies to geofence areas to restrict scooter access in those areas, that’s the end result of repeated violations."

Bird Associate Miles Schuck says the company usually issues warnings and more education on scooter users before issuing fines.

"It’s usually to supplement what we’re paying the city," Schuck says. "So oftentimes if we’re fining the riders, it means that we’re being fined. So that’s the offset there."

Bird dropped a fleet of scooters in Bloomington in September of last year. By the end of that month, Lime had become Bird’s main competitor and the second electric scooter company in Bloomington.

City officials said they had no notice of the company’s plan.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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