A newly-inked pilot program will soon bring electric scooters to four east side communities, Euclid, South Euclid, East Cleveland and Cleveland Heights. Cuyahoga County sustainability director Mike Foley said scooters are set to hit the streets in these areas in September, with a possible launch Labor Day weekend.
The county, which has a licensing agreement with Lime, Spin, Bird and Link, has been working for years to safely bring scooters to these communities. Within the past year, Euclid and South Euclid have passed ordinances allowing shared mobility devices within their borders. With scooters increasingly popular in the city of Cleveland, these cities are now looking to get in on the action.
Allison Lukacsy-Love, director of planning and development for the city of Euclid, said the city is looking to add scooters not only for recreation but also as a way that people can get to work. “It’s great for recreation but it’s also an important link to places of employment,” she said, citing workers traveling to Euclid’s Amazon distribution center as one example.
Ideastream Public Media reported in January that east side communities, including University Heights, were working collaboratively on scooter rules.
Initially, each of these communities will have just 10 scooters per vendor (East Cleveland will have four scooters per vendor). One of the main holdups has been working out the rebalancing sites, or parking areas, that riders will be encouraged to use. Essentially, riders will be prompted in the app to park their scooters in designated areas, and there will be a discount for doing so, rather than simply leaving them littering the sidewalk. The county has obtained a grant from the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) to study rebalancing sites (parking areas) and create a template for permanent parking areas in the future, but for right now, these areas will simply be marked off by tape.
“The idea is to encourage scooter riders to park in the rebalancing areas – it’s a nudge,” said Foley. “If we do this, it helps with mobility a bit more, and people aren’t driving cars if they’re using scooters. It’s less CO2 in the atmosphere.”
Through what’s called geo-fencing, scooter companies control what parts of the city the devices can be used in. That can be frustrating to someone like Lukacsy-Love, who says that where she lives in North Collinwood riders can’t get to the Euclid Beach Metropark. However, she intends to convey to scooter companies the importance of linking to jobs and public transportation.
“Right now, the scooters stop with municipal boundaries (and other boundaries),” she said. “We’re trying with this initiative and other initiatives to erase those boundaries.”
The scooter pilot program also ties into other sustainability initiatives in Euclid, including the addition of solar panels on city hall roof and electric vehicle charging stations throughout the city. However, she said the key for the city to support the pilot was ensuring that scooters don’t litter the sidewalks and block pedestrians.
She said that Euclid can learn from the policies Cleveland has implemented over the past few years. “What’s given us confidence is not only other suburbs signing off on this but also that the county is licensing the scooter companies,” she said. “All of the vendors have already gone through a rather robust permitting and vetting process with the city of Cleveland.”
Learn more about the city of Cleveland’s scooter program at https://planning.clevelandohio.gov/dockless/index.php.
This story was produced as part of an environmental justice reporting initiative involving partners Ideastream Public Media, The Land, The NewsLab at Kent State University, WKSU, La Mega, and the Northeast Ohio Solutions Journalism Collaborative (NEOSOJO).
Lee Chilcote is editor of The Land.