New rules could limit where the 12,000 motorized scooters currently permitted for rent in Dallas can be used and parked.
A test program for what the City of Dallas calls “Dockless Mobility” expires at the end of March.
It’s called dockless in comparison to some other cities where the vehicles must park in wired docking stations.
Dockless can lead to nuisance in the current Dallas arrangement where scooters are left everywhere.
“They need to do something about them being out and abandoned. They've got to regulate them for sure,” said Deep Ellum visitor Karyn Reese.
Designated parking areas are one measure recommended to the Dallas City Council Transportation Committee in a briefing Tuesday.
Council members said they like the inexpensive transportation option, but have concerns.
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David Blewett represents Downtown Dallas, where more than half of the scooters have been posted.
“Public safety is a big issue here. We have to be aware of head injuries. The people are riding these things late at night,” Blewett said.
Last July video of a scooter rider was recorded on I-35E Stemmons Freeway weaving through traffic. That rider was not injured but others have not been as lucky.
“And I see the numbers going up and up with head injuries, and that's a concern to me,” said City Council Member Tennell Atkins.
Current rules forbid scooters on sidewalks in downtown and Deep Ellum, but Deep Ellum visitor Owen Reese said he has seen many scooters on sidewalks.
“I certainly understand the convenience and appeal of them but I come back from Mav's games at night and almost get run over on the sidewalk, people zooming by,” he said.
Uptown business leaders want the sidewalk scooter restriction extended to their part of the city.
The proposed regulations include a new window on the time that scooters can operate in Dallas from 5 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Council members at Tuesday’s meeting said the stop time should be midnight instead, the same time DART trains stop operating.
“We’re cutting off that last mile of transportation 30 minutes early for folks who might be getting off at a DART stop” said Council Member Chad West.
In congested Deep Ellum, the scooter stop time would be 9 p.m. to boost safety.
Other proposed regulations would boost fees on companies to operate in Dallas and hire a contractor to impound scooters that are parked improperly.
Some city leaders want the scooters to be available in many other parts of the city as a transportation option.
“We need to start focusing more on the City of Dallas than just a mile and a half radius of where the central business district is,” said Councilman Adam Bazaldua. He represents Fair Park and South Dallas.
The higher fees on scooter operators could also be used to improve the city’s infrastructure for bikes and scooters.
“I think if the City of Dallas had more bike lanes and would regulate them to stay in the bike lanes, that would be a really good solution, so people can still have their fast transportation,” Owen Reese said.
Councilman West said tweeking details of the plan Tuesday should not be considered opposition.
“I don’t want anyone to take away from this that we don’t support it,” West said. “There’s so many opportunities. Dallas is friendly to multi-modal transportation and it’s an exciting time to be in Dallas. And, this is one of those methods that we’ve got to embrace.”
City staff members said they would refine the plan and return next month with an ordinance for a full city council vote on March 25.