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PUBLIC INPUT INVITED - City of Altoona Considering Allowing Electric Bicycle and Scooter Rental

Tuesday, July 12, 2022
Mike Golat | City Administrator

Altoona, Wisconsin- On Thursday, July 14, the City of Altoona will consider an ordinance to allow electric bicycle and scooter rental within the City of Altoona. The ordinance would allow rental companies to operate within the City of Altoona after executing a contract with the City.

The contract would address general operations of electric bicycles and scooters, including maintenance requirements, speed limits, age restrictions, availability, reporting, safety, parking restrictions, insurance requirements and rental of any city-controlled property.

The City has been approached by Robyn Scooters, a privately owned company based in Eau Claire, regarding renting scooters in Altoona. The proposed initial pickup location for the scooters is River Prairie Park, but the program may be expanded to accommodate pickup at other locations in Altoona if successful.

All scooters rented will be required to be returned to designated locations in Altoona or Eau Claire and may not be left in places that are not designated. The equipment will be maintained and charged by the owner of the company. According to Carolyn Miller, owner of Robyn Scooters, having designated pickup and drop off locations will prevent some of the problems other cities have experienced with scooters and bicycles being left in random places for independent contractors to retrieve and charge.

People interested in providing input regarding the proposed ordinance are invited to attend the City Council meeting at 6 PM on Thursday at Altoona City Hall, 1303 Lynn Avenue, Altoona.

FAQs

The Altoona City Council will be considering two items related to electric scooter and bicycle operation in Altoona at Thursday's City Council meeting at 6 PM. Please see the information below related to the two ordinances.

  1. What do the two electric bicycle/scooter ordinances address?
    The first ordinance provides general operating guidelines for electric bicycle and scooter owners operating in the City of Altoona. Currently the City has no ordinance governing the use of electric bikes and scooters.
    The second ordinance addresses the guidelines for operating an electric bicycle and/or scooter rental business in Altoona.
  2. There are already electric bicycles and scooters operating in Altoona. Why are these ordinances coming forward now?
    Electric bicycles and scooters are becoming more and more popular and the industry is quickly evolving. The City is trying to establish reasonable operating guidelines as use grows. In addition, the City has been approached by a local scooter rental company to establish a scooter rental business that would operate in Altoona, originally out of River Prairie Park. The City will be considering approving a contract with the operator at Thursday's meeting.
  3. What are some of the rules related to equipment specifications for electric bicycles and scooters operating in Altoona?
    Electric bicycles may not be rated higher than 750 w and electric scooters may not be able to travel more than 20 mph.
  4. Are there speed limits established for electric bicycles and scooters?
    Yes. Bicycles and scooters may not travel faster than 20 mph on trails six feet in width or wider or 10 mph on trails less than six feet in width. On roadways, electric bicycles must abide by the speed limit and electric scooters are limited to 20 mph due to the equipment restriction on their speed.
  5. Is there an age limit on operating an electric bicycle or scooter in the City of Altoona?
    Bicycles capable of traveling more than 20 mph when powered only by bike's or scooter's motor can only be ridden by riders 16 years of age or older per state law. Electric scooters and bicycles that are limited to 20 mph or less when powered only by the motor may be ridden on trails and sidewalks in the City by persons of any age. However, persons less than eight years old may not ride on roadways in the City of Altoona, unless they are seven or eight years of age only and are closely accompanied by an adult during daylight hours.
  6. What safety equipment is required on the electric bicycles and scooters in Altoona?
    Every person using electric bicycles or scooters between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise shall be equipped with a lamp firmly attached to the front of their ride. A reflector or light shall also be mounted to the rear of the bicycle or scooter.
  7. Are there places that electric bicycles and scooters cannot be operated in Altoona?
    The ordinance restricts electric bicycles and scooters from operating on River Prairie Drive and Oakleaf Way as well as other places that may be restricted by posting a sign. The City will monitor use and post signs as needed.
  8. What are some of the requirements of operating an electric scooter or bicycle business in Altoona?
    Any operator of an electric scooter or bicycle rental business would be required to enter into an agreement with the City of Altoona outlining the requirements of operating in the Altoona. The contract would address general operations of electric bicycles and scooters, including maintenance requirements, speed limits, age restrictions, availability, reporting, safety, parking restrictions, insurance requirements and rental of any city-controlled property if proposed.
  9. I have visited other cities with electric scooter and bicycle share rentals and the scooters and bikes get left all over town in the middle of sidewalks, roads and thrown in the river. Will that happen in Altoona?
    The short answer is no. Those large, national companies you may have seen in big cities frequently do not have designated return areas. The companies frequently hire independent contractors to find and pickup the scooters and bikes and recharge them. The Altoona operator ordinance specifies that the bicycles and scooters will need to be returned to designated areas and the company owners are responsible for charging and maintaining the scooters and bicycles. If the scooters are not returned the user continues to be charged, which provides incentive to return the equipment properly. There are also parking rules included in the contract that the rental companies must abide by.
  10. Can the rental operators track the location of the scooters and bicycles?
    Yes. The equipment is equipped with global positioning system technology that allows operators to determine the location of their equipment at all times. The technology also allows the operator to geofence areas to define areas of use and to limit speeds of the equipment in specified areas.

Follow this link to the City Council Agenda for the July 14, 2022 meeting >>