ST. GEORGE – A move to bring electric scooters to St. George this month has been postponed by city officials as they consider additional options. Springdale, another city that has been approached to allow electric scooters, is keeping an eye on what St. George does.
During a work meeting of the St. George City Council last Thursday, the council decided to delay the implementation of an electric scooter system in the city as multiple companies have since shown interest in being the one to bring scooters to St. George.
“Some of these companies are ready to drop scooters tomorrow,” said Marc Mortensen, the city’s support services director.
The City Council had originally considered approving a scooter company at an upcoming regular council meeting scheduled for Thursday. Instead, the city officials have shown interest in issuing a request for proposal, which is basically an invite to any and all interested scooter companies to submit a document detailing why they would be the best scooter service for the city.
“Why not see what’s out there?” City Attorney Shawn Guzman said. “The more you look, the more you find.”
Lime and Bird are currently considered the major players in electric scooter service. Both vied to be the scooter service for Salt Lake City earlier this year, with Lime eventually winning the scooter duel.
Mortensen noted that after Salt Lake City, scooter companies began to look at St. George. Lime was the company that initially approached St. George about implementing an electric scooter service.
Once proposals from various scooter companies are submitted, a committee will review the proposals accordingly, Mortensen said.
The electric scooters work in a similar fashion to the Zagster bike share program in the sense they both use a smart phone app to locate and unlock bikes and scooters for use. Elements where they differ, however, is a point of concern for both St. George and Springdale officials.
“The biggest issue is where they get left,” St. George Councilman Jimmie Hughes said.
While the Zagster bikes are picked up and dropped off at one of the various docking stations around the city, the scooters are largely dockless. They can be left anywhere – especially when the battery runs out of juice.
Companies like Lime employ people to retrieve scooters at the end of the day and recharge them overnight.
As for the public, Hughes said the city will have to educate them on where the scooters can and can’t be used and where they can be left as specified under a city ordinance yet to be drafted.
Springdale may see itself going through the same process soon, as a local company approached town officials with a proposal to supply scooters there.
“We’re definitely interested,” said Tom Dancie, Springdale’s director of development. “For a long time we’ve been interested in a bike share, so this adds a dimension to that.”
Before Springdale officials allow electric scooters on either its sidewalks or bicycle lanes, they’re keeping a close eye on other cities that previously approved scooter use.
“We’re hoping to learn from the experience of the other cities on this,” Dancie said.
Like St. George, there is a concern over where dockless scooters would be left and where they could be used.
Earlier this year Springdale participated in the state Route 9 reconstruction project that resulted in wider sidewalks and bicycle lanes through the main part of the town, but Dancie said that similar to St. George, officials need to determine where the scooters would be allowed to go.
“Where do we allow scooter riders to ride?” Dancie said. “Where do we want those scooters to be operating? We see potential impacts there.”
Overall, Springdale officials are working to provide as many vehicle alternatives for residents and visitors as possible, Dancie said.
St. George has a similar goal in mind, and Mortensen said the scooters provide a bit more flexibility than the bike share program and could be a way get people to places the city’s SunTran buses currently do not.
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