After two pilot programs, e-scooters will finally become a (semi) permanent fixture in Chicago: Today, the Mayor's Office, Chicago Department of Transportation and Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection announced the launch of the first docked bike and scooter system in the nation. The city selected three scooter companies—Lime, Spin, and Superpedestrian—for a two-year permit that will provide 3,000 scooters, which are expected to hit the streets in early May.
The Divvy city bike-sharing program and its operating partner, Lyft, announced additional plans to add 1,000 scooters to their system in the downtown core, also expected to launch next month. Divvy users will be able to park both bikes and scooters at 230 stations in and near downtown. Divvy members, including those with the $5 annual Divvy for Everyone (D4E) membership, will be able to rent scooters on their existing membership.
With the launch, Divvy also announced a new pricing structure for members. If you're a member, you'll still be able to receive your unlimited free unlocks, along with free rides of up to 45 minutes on the classic blue bikes and "significantly discounted" per-minute and out-of-station parking fees for e-bikes and scooters. For the next year, CDOT and Lyft are adding a $10 monthly credit for D4E members, which can be redeemed for up to 200 e-bike minutes. This new pricing will take effect when the scooters launch next month.
"But Time Out Chicago," we hear you asking, "Are we going to just have to deal with scooters clogging the sidewalk, tripping us as we try to get to work or happy hour?" According to the city's announcement, the scooters will have "cable-locking technology, as well as sidewalk-riding detection technology to help reduce riding on sidewalks." We have no idea what "sidewalk-riding detection technology" entails, but we hope it works.
Additionally, to ensure safety in pedestrian-heavy zones, scooters will not be allowed on the Lakefront Trail, the 606, the Riverwalk or Navy Pier. At launch, only the Divvy scooters, which will have docking stations, will be available downtown. Half of the Lime, Spin and Superpedestrian scooters will be deployed in the city's Equity Priority Areas to ensure more mobility options on the South and West Sides.
The three participating scooter companies set their own prices, but are required by the city to include a low-income option, accept cash payments and make the scooters easily accessible for residents without smartphones.