'Having some problems:' Lime expansion denied, Milwaukee's scooter program on hold

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett on Friday, Aug. 2 announced the city's "Dockless Scooter Pilot Program" was put on hold for additional companies looking to operate scooters in the city, and Lime would not be allowed to expand. The mayor warned people to follow the rules if they want the scooter program to continue.

On July 23, Lime became the first company approved under the Dockless Scooter Pilot Program. The company was allowed to bring in 500 scooters to the city.

"It's a hot afternoon. We decided to take a ride down," said Steve Yahnke, as he enjoyed a spin along Milwaukee's lakefront Friday afternoon. "It's a blast, and a ton of fun."

Mayor Barrett noted within hours of signing the resolution that allowed for the pilot program, he was walking from City Hall when he saw a young man riding a scooter on the sidewalk. He said he informed the young man that this wasn't allowed, and he moved to the street.

"We are having some problems," said Mayor Barrett Friday. "We want to make this work, but it's not going to work if we don't have compliance with the law."

City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works officials, in a news release, said more than 100 complaints came in regarding improper scooter use in the week since Lime scooters were launched in the city.

"The sidewalks are for pedestrians," said Mayor Barrett. "These are scooters to be used in the street."

Mayor Barrett said the goal of the city's pilot program is expanding access to transportation, fulfilling last-mile connections, and also, evaluating the impact on the public.

Due to the problems with scooters being used on sidewalks, Mayor Barrett said DPW officials declined Lime's request for more scooters, and the "Dockless Scooter Pilot Program" was paused for other companies "until we sort this out."

"We want to make this work, but it will not work if people who are riding scooters continue to ride on the sidewalk," Mayor Barrett said.

The mayor noted he wants scooter operators to be safe, along with motorists and pedestrians. Otherwise, the pilot program could be suspended completely.

“A purpose of this pilot is to determine whether or not these devices can be safety incorporated into our streets and sidewalks,” DPW Commissioner Jeff Polenske said in the DPW release. “The safety issues so far are very concerning: riding on the sidewalk, riding in the roadway against the direction of traffic, and parking scooters on areas that block pedestrian access.”

Yahnke said said safety is also a priority for him, as a scooter operator.

"Just try to give people space, and make sure that you go to the right at all times, and stay away from walkers and bikers, and just give people space in general," said Yahnke. "I'm sure there's going to be a couple of bad apples, but I think it's safe."

CLICK HERE to learn more about the city's Dockless Scooter Pilot Program. Per the program, the operator is responsible for handling all complaints, informing riders how to safely
use scooters and systems, and providing the necessary education and training.

A Lime spokesman issued this statement to FOX6 News:

"We are excited to continue our proactive work with the Mayor and local community partners to further integrate micro mobility solutions. We are committed to providing a safe environment for the scooter industry to thrive in Milwaukee."

CLICK HERE to learn more about Lime scooters, and riding responsibly.

A spokeswoman for Spin issued this statement to FOX6 News:

"We are incredibly surprised and disappointed this decision was made by the Department of Public Works. Throughout this process, we have worked closely with the city to address their concerns. The city informed us that our application was complete, we even met with city officials on Tuesday to prepare for deployment next week and have invested extensive resources to support safe operations in Milwaukee. Regardless of the city’s rationale for this unexpected announcement, we find it odd that the city has allowed the existing company to continue operating in an exclusive arrangement. We hope to continue this conversation with the city and look forward to developing a solution that allows additional vendors into the market."

As of Tuesday, July 30, Milwaukee police told FOX6 News no one had been cited for misusing a scooter.