Dockless Scooters

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon

When electric scooters flooded into Austin, the companies that rent them touted their environmental benefits: “Riders were able to prevent 445,334 pounds of carbon emissions,” a press release from Bird said. The startup LimeBike estimated its scooters reduced 8,500 pounds of CO2 here in just two weeks.

But those numbers are based on some shaky assumptions.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Dockless vehicle providers now have rules for operating in Austin after a City Council vote early this morning, giving providers a framework to deploy dockless bikes and scooters legally by as soon as next week.

The unanimous vote rolls dockless vehicles into a city ordinance banning abandoned vehicles from blocking rights-of-way like sidewalks and sets up a framework to penalize dockless vehicles operating illegally in Austin.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Jumping the gun works, it seems.

While city staff were devising a pilot program to govern dockless bikes and scooters, expecting to bring a proposal to council members in June, two companies dropped their electric scooters throughout the city. Now the Austin Transportation Department has proposed fast-tracking approval of the pilot program.