Wichita is a step closer to having electric scooters on city streets.
The Wichita City Council endorsed a new electric scooter pilot program at its meeting Tuesday. If the program receives final approval next week, electric scooters could be in downtown Wichita by late summer.
The program regulates the usage of electric scooters, particularly to address the clutter that has been seen in other cities that have electric scooters.
“The advantage that we have is we’re really not out in front on this particular opportunity,” Mayor Jeff Longwell said. “Other cities have tried it and seen lots of different problems.”
Electric scooters will not be allowed on public sidewalks and will have specific pickup and drop-off locations. The scooters will then be picked up at night and taken to a facility that will repair the scooters if need be.
Scooters can only be used in bike lanes, park paths or any street where the speed limit is under 40 miles per hour.
The program also limits scooter usage to certain hours: from dawn to dusk or 9 p.m.
Wichita currently has no ordinance regulating scooters.
“One of our concerns is that this is a new technology for Wichita,” said Wichita Transit Director Michael Tann. “We want to make sure that a well as being a learning process for the users of the scooters that it’s a learning process for our citizens, and to make sure that we walk before we run in this process.”
Tann said that a user agreement will be required when renting scooters, and the rules will likely be posted in large type at the pickup locations.
Companies that want to enter the Wichita scooter market will have to pay an annual administrative fee of $500 to $1,000 and 15 cents for every time a scooter is rented.
Money from the 15-cent fee will go toward city funds to establish and maintain bike paths.
Kylie Cameron is an intern in the KMUW News Lab.