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First fleet of scooters to hit the streets in Omaha Saturday
special report

First fleet of scooters to hit the streets in Omaha Saturday

The first fleet of electric scooters will show up in Omaha on Saturday, Mayor Jean Stothert said Friday.

Spin, one of two companies participating in the scooter pilot program this year, plans to deploy about 400 scooters, a company spokeswoman said earlier this week.

Bird, the other company, will bring its first round of scooters to the city on July 27, Stothert said.

The scooters, which riders unlock using the companies’ smartphone apps, are expected to be placed in downtown, South Omaha, North Omaha, Midtown Crossing, Benson, the Blackstone District and Aksarben Village. The apps tell riders where they can and cannot ride and park the scooters.

Unlocking a scooter costs $1. Riders generally pay 15 cents a minute after that.

Agreements with the city allow scooters to be operational from 5 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. each day.

Last month, the City Council approved an ordinance defining the rules of the road for scooter operation.

The scooters aren’t allowed on sidewalks, and riders can’t take them on streets with speed limits greater than 35 mph. Riders must obey all city and state traffic laws.

No one younger than 18 is allowed to use the scooters. Riders need a valid driver’s license or state-issued ID. Only one person is allowed to operate a scooter at a time.

Scooters cannot be parked in ways that block accessible parking, driveways or railroad tracks.

Violating any of those rules could result in a $100 fine.

Helmets are encouraged but not required. People can request a free helmet from either company through the app. The companies typically host community educational events about safe riding practices.

Both companies say they have bolstered their disinfection practices during the coronavirus pandemic. Spin’s website says the company cleans frequently touched areas of scooters, like the handlebars and vertical mast, when each one enters a storage warehouse.

The scooters are collected at the end of each night to be recharged and repaired, if necessary. The vehicles used to transport scooters are being disinfected after each shift, too.

Operating agreements approved by the City Council earlier this week say each company can have up to 750 scooters in the city. The Spin spokeswoman said the company will adjust the size of its fleet based on demand.

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Reece covers Omaha City Hall, including the City Council and Mayor's Office, and how decisions by local leaders affect Omaha residents. He's a born-and-raised Nebraskan and UNL graduate. Follow him on Twitter @reecereports. Phone: 402-444-1127​

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