Electric scooters are all over downtown Sacramento and many other cities. But in Reno, officials are just beginning the process of bringing a scooter share program to town.
During Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Reno city staff will present two proposals: one to establish rules for using scooters on city streets and another to regulate how a scooter share company — like Bird or Jump — would operate.
Reno Director of Policy and Strategy Dylan Shaver says a scooter share program could boost public transportation by helping residents overcome what he calls the “first and last mile” problem.
“Wherever you live, to get to your bus stop is gonna require a little bit of effort,” he said. “In the summer here it gets real hot and in the winter it gets real cold, so you probably want to do that as quickly as possible.”
Over the summer, Reno approved a Sustainability and Climate Action Plan, which aims to reduce emissions and encourage people to use alternative forms of transportation.
Shaver says rental scooters could help meet those goals by making it easier to get to the bus stop.
But if the city council does approve a scooter rental program, it won’t be the first time e-scooters have come to Reno’s streets.
Last year, while Lime was operating a pilot bike share program in Reno, it announced they would also begin offering their signature green scooters. That prompted the city to issue a cease-and-desist letter against Lime, with the ultimate result that the agreement between the bike share service and the city fell apart.
According to Shaver, the problem was Lime didn’t ask the city first.
“Without any approval from council or really, we believe, legal authority, they tried to introduce e-scooters onto our streets," Shaver said. "And then that created a lot of friction between the operator and the council.”
Another obstacle to Lime’s plan was the legal status of scooter share programs, which were illegal in Nevada until the state legislature passed a law allowing local governments to negotiate their own contracts for scooter rental services.
In the wake of the scooter spat, the City Council chose not to renew its contract with Lime, leaving Reno without any rental bikes or scooters.
But Alex Youn, Communications and Public Affairs Manager for Lime, said the company is still interested in providing bike and scooter share services in the Reno-Sparks area. “We’re focused on trying to find first mile and last mile solutions,” he said.
Youn added that in the cities where Lime offers both bikes and scooters, people are more interested in the scooters — even when the bikes have electric motors.
“The scooters are more convenient,” he explained. “They’re easier to get around on.
If councilmembers approve the plans, the city could adopt an ordinance to bring e-scooters to Reno as early as December.