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Cincinnati officials are considering a 'total ban' on e-scooters, records show

City of Cincinnati officials are considering a ban on e-scooters after reported misdeeds by riders.
Bill Rinehart
City of Cincinnati officials are considering a ban on e-scooters after reported misdeeds by riders.

Electric scooter riders in Cincinnati noticed a change last month in hours of operation: they're now inoperable from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. The city cited a range of complaints, from underage riders to crime, as being linked to the change. Records recently obtained by WVXU also show city officials warned e-scooter companies its considering a "total ban" on the devices.

According to an April 22 email, Lime and Bird were warned for the first time about the possible change at a meeting on April 18.

"[Department of Transportation & Engineering] impressed upon Bird and Lime that for the first time, the City Administration, in response to the mounting e-scooter program associated issues, is considering the possibility of terminating the e-scooter program and banning public ride-share e-scooters from operating within the city," an email says.

The email goes on to say the city is also putting a hold on the e-scooter agreements with Lime and Bird companies, instituting a 400 e-scooter fleet size limit, and a 12-hour limit on operating hours.

Officials declined to be interviewed about the meeting between city officials and e-scooter companies, but said the issue will be addressed at the next Public Safety and Governance Committee meeting Tuesday.

Lime did not respond to request for comment. But a representative from Bird sent a statement saying, in part:

"Shared e-scooters are a critical, eco-friendly transportation alternative for many Cincinnati residents including those who rely on the service to get home from work in the evening, those who don’t own a car and those who don’t feel safe on public transit. Bird is working with the city to address their concerns — we’ve already turned on an ID scan feature to verify riders are 18 or older and turned off the group ride feature — to prevent policy decisions with sweeping repercussions for many."

Bad behavior on e-scooters?

Officials said the meeting was prompted by a variety of issues raised by "CPD and the community." The Department of Transportation and Engineering, Cincinnati Police Department, and the law department were all part of the talks.

Those issues include underage riding; riding on the sidewalk or the wrong way on streets; e-scooter parking and riding in unauthorized areas; violations of the 11 p.m. curfew; and e-scooter use in criminal activity.

But a city report released in December shows only 0.02% of all trips since 2018 have been involved in an "incident of some kind." A public records request issued to CPD for crimes or complaints involving e-scooters has not been fulfilled by publication.

All hope is not squashed for the future of e-scooters in Cincinnati, though.

The city and e-scooter companies brainstormed a list of possible solutions to the issues, which include ID verification, customer outreach and education, and banning accounts for those who misuse e-scooters.

To read the entirety of the meeting notes, scroll through the email below.

Jolene Almendarez is the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants who came to San Antonio in the 1960s. She was raised in a military family and has always called the city home. She studied journalism at San Antonio College and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Public Communications from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She's been a reporter in San Antonio and Castroville, Texas, and in Syracuse and Ithaca, New York.