Missoula council members examining potential for electric scooters

Posted at 10:44 AM, Jun 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-14 12:44:19-04

MISSOULA – While there are still questions, the Missoula City Council may be warming to the idea of electric scooters in the Garden City.

Council members received a personal demonstration from Lime, an electric scooter rental company headquartered in California. The company already operates across the Northwest, including in Spokane, Boise, Seattle and Portland.

Although there’s no specific proposal for Missoula, Lime brought four of the high-tech rechargeable scooters to town for council members to try.

“Yeah, it’s a hoot to scoot. I was tracking my speed and I got up to 16-miles an hour. We were worried about going too fast but that felt quite fast. So I’m not so worried about folks going 20 or 30. Eleven seemed really nice,” Missoula City Councilwoman Michelle Cares said. “You can’t do turn signals, but otherwise really good.”

City officials are still working on the details for the proposed ordinance governing scooters and e-bikes. A public hearing on the issue is set for Monday, June 17 at 7 p.m.

Based on the brief demonstration during this week’s meeting, the concept could be a big hit.

“I’ve been in cities where this has been implemented incredibly well and I’ve been in other cities where it’s just been a real mess,” Councilman Jordan Hess said. “And so I want to make sure that if this is something that passes the council, and if there is interest for a system to come here, that the rollout is good.”

“People are right when they say it’s a good option for that ‘last mile’ of getting from place to place,” Cares added. “There are some concerns and so I think a trial might be a good idea for our community.”

Lime’s representative admits there are issues still being worked out, from scooter recovery to bad parking. But by and large, he said it’s not much different than 100 years ago when downtown Missoula was coping with a mix of horses, cars and bikes.

“We had to figure out ways to teach people, what are the right things to do and help them do that every time. And so, the same thing is going on now,” said Lime’s Jonathan Hopkins. “And that means it requires a little activity and brain power and really, just good partnerships between the companies and government to figure out, ‘How do we bring people these new mobility options and reduce the risks or downsides?'”

Hopkins told council members Lime would likely have to take the scooters out of service during the winter months in Missoula.

-Reported by Dennis Bragg/MTN News