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E-scooters are slated to return to the streets of Chicago, but banned from the 606 Trail | Chicago News

A masked cyclist rides the 606 Trail in Chicago. (WTTW news)

Companies looking to make electric scooters an integral part of the urban transportation system can now apply for one of three permits approved by the Chicago City Council in October – but the two-wheelers will be banned from the 606 Trail.

During the debate on the scooter sharing project, which will work similarly to the Divvy bike sharing system, city council members were told that scooters were only banned from the Lakefront Trail, not the 606 Trail which is common get clogged with bikes, runners, and walking aids.

However, the rules released by the Chicago Department of Transportation on Wednesday informed companies planning to apply for permits that e-scooters will also be banned on popular trails, including the Riverwalk and O’Hare Airport.

E-scooters are banned from both the Lakefront and 606 Trails under Chicago Park District rules, a city spokesman said. A Chicago Park District representative did not respond to a request for comment from WTTW News on Wednesday or Thursday.

Three companies will receive two-year licenses from the city to run a maximum of 3,000 scooters on Chicago’s streets this spring. Any company would not be allowed more than 1,000 scooters according to the rules.

Originally, members of the Chicago City Council were told that in the first phase of the program, 6,000 scooters would hit the city streets, with each company limited to 2,000 scooters.

“Companies are allowed to use additional devices if they meet certain requirements for passenger numbers, safety, compliance and education,” said a statement from the departments for traffic, business affairs and consumer protection.

The program could be expanded to 12,500 scooters with assistance from Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gia Biagi.

The application deadline for companies is February 18, officials said.

Two pilot programs in 2019 and 2020 have banned e-scooters from the Central Business District as well as the Lakefront Trail and the 606 Trail.

According to the rules, “a limited number of scooters will be allowed in the city center”. Both in downtown Alds. Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward) and Brian Hopkins (2nd Ward) said they were concerned about the impact of scooters on pedestrians in their wards.

City officials hope the two-wheeled vehicles will reduce traffic jams and encourage public transit use across Chicago. Opponents of the program, however, say the scooters, often dumped indiscriminately by drivers and rolled across crowded sidewalks, have proven to be a nuisance at their stations.

The city is expected to earn $ 4.4 million from approval fees for the 6,000 scooters in the first phase of the program. Drivers who rent the two-wheeled scooters would also pay the city a 9% rental tax, officials said.

So that the two-wheelers do not become a nuisance for pedestrians, every scooter must be equipped with a system that sounds the alarm correctly if it is driven on Chicago’s sidewalks. The warning would be similar to that of cars if the driver’s seat belt is not on, to alert both the driver and nearby pedestrians that the scooter is operating in the wrong location, officials said.

At the end of the journey, the scooters must be properly locked to sticks or bike racks. Businesses may or may not build corrals for the scooters, and businesses must ensure that at least half of their scooters are available on the south and west sides as per the rules.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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