Burlington is working with South Burlington and Winooski to launch a new rental system for electric scooters and electric bikes.
Chapin Spencer, director of Burlington Public Works, said the municipalities hope to make 200 scooters and 200 bikes available Memorial Day weekend. They’re working with Gotcha Bike, the vendor behind Burlington’s Greenride system that began in 2018.
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger said the program will help lessen the city’s reliance on fossil fuels, as well as add to the diversity of transportation options for residents.
“We’ve seen across the country a dramatic expansion of electric bikes and especially electric scooters,” Weinberger said. “Cities that were more proactive, did better planning and had more rules had much greater public acceptance and excitement about this operation.”
The program will be funded by local sponsors, Gotcha Bike and user fees. To avoid cluttered sidewalks and other issues that plague programs elswhere, the system won’t be dockless — scooters and bikes will be stored at fixed locations or users will pay a fee.
Public works officials say the scooters and bikes will operate as vehicles — riding on roadways and not sidewalks.
A public forum Tuesday night gave residents the opportunity to weigh in. One concern shared was enforcement.
“People don’t know how to drive them,” said one resident. “They zip around, they bring them on sidewalks. Who’s going to enforce some of these rules? Is the police department now supposed to take care of 400 new vehicles around the city?”
The next steps for the towns involved will be finalizing a contract with Gotcha Bike and adjusting local ordinances as needed.