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Scoot to Shoots? Electric scooters are coming to Durham

Lime scooters lined up, just as they will be in spots around Durham. Courtesy of Flickr.
Lime scooters lined up, just as they will be in spots around Durham. Courtesy of Flickr.

Hate ‘em or love ‘em, they’re coming: a swarm of electric scooters is set to hit the streets of Durham in just a few days. 

The Durham Transportation Department announced that it will extend 800 permits to electric scooter companies—200 each to Bird, Gotcha, Lime and Spin scooters. A scooter will be available for riders to unlock and ride wherever they find one. Riders use apps to unlock the scooters, and they are charged based on how long they ride—generally around $0.15 a minute, plus $1 per ride.

The scooters are set to become available June 13, according to a news release

The companies have received "conditional approval" and will be green-lighted to start operation if they pay fees and provide "required documentation,” according to the release. 

“We are pleased that residents and visitors in Durham will have a new transportation option to try. Scooters can provide first- and last-mile connections to transit and serve residents who don’t have a car or prefer to drive less,” said Bill Judge, interim director of the transportation department, in the release. “Ultimately, this is one way we’re working to provide equitable, accessible, multi-modal transportation services that meets the needs of our growing community and consumer demands.”

Durham will require riders to be 16 and follow traffic laws like they would in cars (e.g. riding on the right side of the road), and riders will be “encouraged” to wear helmets. Although the scooters can offer a fun, easy way to get around a city, they can be dangerous for those who ride them and a pain for drivers.

Judge said in the release that 20% of each company’s' scooters must be "geographically accessible to persons who have low and moderate incomes" and offer ways to pay for those without smartphones, credit cards or debit cards. 

An ordinance passed in October 2018 required companies to move any scooters that had been parked in the same spot for 72 hours—a move that sought to prevent scooter pileups like those that occurred with Lime and Spin bikes. Lime and Spin opted not to renew their bike-sharing permits, which expired in January. 

This news comes after Bird and Lime decided not to submit proposals to keep their scooters in Raleigh, citing tough regulations and fees from the city. They had both had their scooters in Raleigh since summer 2018, and they were a common sight downtown. Gotcha—one of the scooter companies coming to Durham—was the only company selected to put their scooters in the capital.  

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