The Tucson City Council officially signed Resolution No. 22984 on March 19 to find out if electronic scooters have a place here.
There will initially be up to 1,000 e-scooters around town. Companies are encouraged to put the dockless scooters adjacent to transit stops to help people get around.
By July 1, city officials will have vetted and selected two companies, whose qualifications must include safety strategies to protect riders and others.
As the influx of the scooters draws near, council members have made sure they have the power to cancel operations at any time, giving the operators five days to remove their fleets from the city.
The city reserves the right to make changes to “any aspect of the Pilot at anytime during the Pilot Period,” program documents say.
But, say the scooters become a hit. The City Council will allow 500 more of them — 250 scooters for each company — to be delivered in areas deemed most in need.
The locations will be determined by the Planning and Development Services Department, which will consider factors like access to motor vehicles and poverty.
“This has the potential to really add a transportation option to high-stress areas, underserved areas for which there are less transportation choices,” Paul Durham, Ward 3 councilman, said during a meeting last month regarding the program.
The scooters will be available to people 18 years old and older.
One of the most important populations that could benefit from the pilot’s success? College students.
The University of Arizona said back in October 2018, after it banned scooters on campus, that, “We are working closely with the City of Tucson and other stakeholders to determine a long-term course of action relating to e-scooters owned by both individuals and shared-use mobility companies.”
The trial could be the pathway to seeing e-scooters on campus.
Oklahoma State University went through a similar process. It reinstated e-scooters this spring semester, adding reduced prices for students and faculty.
It has allowed 200 e-scooters on campus, requiring stricter speed limits in some areas.
“Banning the scooters at OSU was tough because the students liked them, but bringing them back in an organized manner has worked very well and alleviated the complaints of scooters blocking sidewalks, ADA paths and building entrances,” said Steve Spradling, director of OSU parking and transportation.
“We have a 10-mph speed limit in the core of campus and require them to be parked in designated areas,” he said.
Data gathered about the use of e-scooters could help the UA decide if they are a viable option on campus.
If the scooters end up being a failure for Tucson over issues like crashes and litter, then it’s game over.
Also, improper use of the e-scooters leading to a jump in citations for parking and riding violations could be bad news for the pilot program. And if the city must redeploy the e-scooters because the companies fail to move them out of the right-of-way within two hours, then a $150 fine per vehicle is allowed.
There is reasonable concern for safety. Falls can result in head injuries, even if the e-scooters are limited to a maximum speed of 15 mph.
“Both of our groups of first responders, both police and paramedics, have better things to do than pick up scooters and pick up scooter riders who have done face-plants,” Ward 6 Councilman Steve Kozachik said during last month’s discussion of the pilot program.
E-scooters come with the same regulations as those applying to adult bicyclists. There’s no requirement for helmets, but the companies are required to offer them to customers who want them.
While the success of the e-scooter pilot is a toss-up, Tucson won’t learn anything unless it tries.
Among the various reader letters the Arizona Daily Star has received about e-scooters, one stands out:
“But nothing bad happened and really, it was fun, a bit daring, and we loved it! Let’s at least try the scooters in Tucson. Don’t be afraid!” a Foothills resident wrote, relating her experience using e-scooters in Phoenix.
It may be this mindset that creates a successful path for e-scooters here.
Down the Road
Lane restrictions to impact travel on I-10, Ina Road: On Monday, construction crews will begin paving Ina Road between Camino de Las Capas and Silverbell Road from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for a week, including the weekend.
Ina Road will remain open, but motorists should expect delays.
Camino de las Capas will be closed between Ina Road and Camino de Oeste for paving work from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Camino de Oeste will be used as a detour, but traffic will be allowed to pass from just one direction at a time.
Ina Road between Camino de las Capas and Silverbell will be reduced to a single lane as crews remove barriers from 8 p.m. Tuesday to 5 a.m. Wednesday.
I-10 will also be reduced to a single lane in each direction between Orange Grove and Cortaro roads from 8 p.m. Wednesday to 5 a.m. Thursday as crews remove temporary concrete barriers.
Lane restrictions set for northbound Interstate 19 at Papago Road: Motorists should expect delays traveling northbound on Interstate 19 between Papago and Valencia roads for two days beginning Tuesday for pavement work.
Crews will reduce the freeway to one lane from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day.
Motorists should use caution and watch for personnel in the area.