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Rental electric scooters to hit Wichita streets Monday

City officials test drive electric scooters

Wichita City Council member Brandon Johnson rides an electric scooter during a demonstration. ( March 6, 2019 )
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Wichita City Council member Brandon Johnson rides an electric scooter during a demonstration. ( March 6, 2019 )

Wichita’s first electric rental scooters will be rolling on downtown streets starting Monday.

Zagster, the company that provides the bikes for Bike Share ICT, will begin operation using Spin scooters Monday morning, said Mike Tann, Wichita Transit director.

Zagster obtained city permission to deploy as many as 500 e-scooters in Wichita.

Two other companies, VeoRide and Slidr, have also obtained city permits to operate on the streets.

VeoRide scooters will arrive at the end of this month or at the latest, the early August, a spokeswoman for the company said.

It will be VeoRide’s Wichita debut, although the company is active in Kansas, providing rental bike service at three universities: KU, Kansas State and Pittsburg State.

Slidr is about two weeks away from deploying scooters, said the company’s founder, Mike Trombino.

The company provides scooter service on the campus of the University of Oklahoma. “Wichita will be our first market in Kansas,” Trombino said.

Like Zagster, VeoRide applied for 500 scooters. Slidr is expected to deploy about 150.

All three e-scooter operating companies use a phone app to control the rental process. And their rental charges will be the same: $1 to start a ride and 15 cents a minute after that.

City council member Becky Tuttle, who ran Bike Share ICT before joining the council, said she’s excited to see another mode of personal transportation on Wichita streets.

“It will be a nice enhancement to the fleet of Bike Share ICT and it just gives folks other options of how they can move around our city,” she said.

She said it will help the city’s ongoing effort to attract and retain young professional talent.

“When folks go to other communities our size across the nation, they see them and they’re excited, so I think it’s a great thing to have them in Wichita,” she said. “I just want people to ride them safely and make sure they’re following the laws.”

Wichita recently passed regulations on e-scooter usage, hoping to avoid problems that have been encountered in some cities where they operate unregulated. Under Wichita’s rules.

Operators will have to be 18 or older to rent a scooter.

The top possible speed of rental scooters will be 15 mph.

Scooters won’t be allowed on any sidewalks, or streets where the speed limit for cars is 35 mph or less.

Scooters will have to automatically shut down at dusk or 9 p.m., whichever comes first.

City staff can immediately impound any scooter that’s blocking traffic or otherwise creating a hazard.

Operating or parking scooters will be prohibited in selected areas.

The rules apply only to rental companies.

Privately owned scooters and electric skateboards were exempted after owners objected to the regulations.

Those users, including people who use scooters and skateboards to commute to work, said the rules would be impractical outside the city core because the speed limits are higher on through streets in suburban neighborhoods.

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