Tempe and Phoenix implement new visions for the future of e-scooters

Tempe began enforcing new regulations and Phoenix launched a new pilot program

Two Arizona cities are stressing the importance of e-scooter safety as the city of Phoenix implements a new pilot program and the city of Tempe enforces new regulations on the popular mode of transportation, both on Monday.

The city of Phoenix launched their six-month pilot program for e-scooters with the hopes of promoting a safe and greener mode of transportation. The city of Tempe began enforcing new regulations to create a safer overall environment for transportation. 

The city of Phoenix hosted a launch event that morning and invited community members to test out the scooters and familiarize themselves with the three scooter companies that will be working with the city. 

Phoenix City Councilmembers Michael Nowakowski (left) and Debra Stark (right) cut the ribbon inaugurating a dockless electric scooter program while Briiana Velez, the City of Phoenix's assistant street transportation director, watches on Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, in Phoenix, Arizona. 

Bird, Spin and Lime were given permits to be a part of this pilot program; Spin and Lime both said they are excited to be working with the city. Bird was not available for comment Monday.

Ashley Patton, public information officer for the Street Transportation Department for the city of Phoenix, said Phoenix is excited to bring a new form of transportation to the downtown area and is excited to see if the program is a good fit. 

“The city spent a lot of time developing the program to make sure that we're doing it right,” Patton said. “However, it is a pilot program. Phoenix is a very unique city, and we're eager to find out if it is indeed a good fit for our city." 

Patton said the the pilot program leaders will be reporting to city council at both the three-month and six-month mark to update the council on the status of the program. 

Patton said it is important for students on the downtown Phoenix campus to know that the campus is a no-ride zone, similar to the Tempe campus, which is geofenced on the scooter apps.

"Sometimes that's via your mobile application, sometimes it's a haptic vibration, sometimes it actually talks to you with an audio recording and it lets you know you're out of bounds," she said.

Eduardo Patino, with Downtown Phoenix Inc., rides a Bird electric scooter on Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, in Phoenix, Arizona. 

Phoenix has a website dedicated to the pilot program, listing rules, information regarding the scooter companies and a map outlining the boundaries and no-ride zones.  

Sara Kueck, a freshman studying nursing, said she thinks the pilot program will be beneficial for ASU students. 

"I took the light rail for the first time and that was a very scary experience," Kueck said. "I think the scooters would be really beneficial, especially if you're trying to go somewhere like the grocery store or something nearby that's too far to walk. It can help you get there, so I think that will be cool."

Katie Stevens, senior director of government relations for Lime, said the collaboration with the city of Phoenix was a great experience and Lime is excited to see how this program will make an impact on such a large city. 

"Phoenix is the fifth largest city (in the country), and certainly in the downtown core, there is congestion,” Stevens said. “There are concerns around air quality, and this short-trip form of transportation is to cut through all that."

Stevens also stressed the importance of safety and following the rules the city has set in place for the program.

“Please park in the parking corrals, please wear a helmet – we'll be doing a number of helmet giveaways … and then certainly make sure that you're staying off of sidewalks, and that you’re riding in bike lanes and on the street,” Stevens said. 

A Lime scooter helmet is displayed on a parking meter on Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, in Phoenix, Arizona. 

Phoenix City Councilman Michael Nowakowski spoke at the event in Phoenix and said the implementation of the new program is exciting for the city. He also stressed the importance of safety, encouraging riders to wear helmets and be cautious when riding the scooters. 

"Downtown Phoenix is thriving: we have all kinds of individuals that work, live and play in downtown Phoenix, but one of the things that we hear is that we have a problem with trying to get around in downtown Phoenix," Nowakowski said. "We brought in the bikes and now we have the e-scooters. The e-scooters are really going to help us to get around and connect in downtown Phoenix." 

Phoenix Community Alliance (PCA), an advocacy group that supports goals in Phoenix, was a main supporter for the pilot program. 

Cyndy Gaughan, membership services and special projects director for PCA, said the alliance’s multimodal connectivity committee was approached by some e-scooter companies that were interested in launching an e-scooter pilot program in Phoenix.

Gaughan said e-scooters are a great solution for the congestion problem in downtown Phoenix. 

“Because these are electric scooters, there aren't any emissions we have to deal with, it avoids a lot of parking problems for automobiles, and there will be hopefully less cars that have to navigate around downtown,” she said. 

Justin Camarda, general manager for Spin, also stressed the importance of safety. 

“Safety is huge for us,” Camarda said. “We always offer free helmets, safety instructions, literature, et cetera.” 

Camarda said partnerships with cities are very important to the company and that Spin would never launch scooters without permission, a problem other scooter companies ran into in Tempe. 

The city of Tempe began enforcing new regulations on Monday, which were put into effect last Friday, regarding e-scooters, to promote safety. 

Tempe City Councilman Randy Keating said at a press conference Monday he hopes the regulations will help citizens adapt to the e-scooter technology. 

“Safety is the priority of any government, and this is disruptive technology, and of course I mean that in a good way. They’re new to the scene; we have a lot of people that aren’t used to this mode of transportation, who might not necessarily know the rules of the road as far as safety goes," Keating said. "We want to make sure that Tempians, particularly our students, are using them in the safest possible manner."

Tempe Police Officer Lt. James Peterson, who was at the event Monday, said he hopes the city will follow the new ordinances because the overall goal of these new rules is to keep citizens safe. 

“What we’re really hoping for is voluntary compliance," Peterson said. "We want people to be safe and that’s the whole goal of these changes, to make people safer."

Reach the reporter at bstoshne@asu.edu and follow @itsbrennaaaa on Twitter. 

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