REXBURG − The city has been approached by five companies looking to start their own business or bring their existing business to Rexburg. All would provide dockless personal vehicles, that could include e-scooters, for rent around the city.
No one has signed the “City’s Operating Agreement for Dockless Personal Vehicles” yet.
City Director of Economic Development and Community Relations Scott Johnson said of the five, three individuals said that they would like to start in mid-September.
“What we’re looking at is a test that we’re going to be working on for six months,” Johnson said. “It’s an operating agreement that will be with each of the companies to see how this works.”
He said that his team has looked at issues that other cities had and tried to address the cities concerns.
The Operating Agreement stated that users have to be at least 18-years old, stay on the right side of the street, if possible in the bike lane and have designated parking areas for charging and storage. The company has to pay a fee for each personal vehicle used in the city, $1.25. The speed will be restricted in certain areas including city parks down to 10 mph with geo-fencing. And they are not allowed on private property or on Brigham Young University-Idaho campus or properties.
“We just had a company up from Arizona, Mesa, for the grand opening of the stadium and I asked them about this. They said ‘that’s the worst thing to ever happen to Mesa.’ The streets are littered with them,” Councilman Jordan Busby said. “The Bird Watchers (employees of an e-scooter renting business called Bird) aren’t bird watching, [the scooters are] being recycled, they’re being dismantled, they’re being thrown in all the canals. It’s affected their [projects] as it gets stuck in gates and things like that. I was in San Francisco, the same thing. 18-years-olds weren’t riding these, they had little kids riding them.”
Busby said it would be another thing that the police would have to spend time on and watch.
“A kid can drive a car at 16 but not a scooter?” asked Jordan Busby.
Johnson said that due to the many issues and concerns they’ve decided to start with a six-month trial period. He said the individuals wanted to bring in 1000 personal vehicles but they said no, and the city can expect them to bring in 250 vehicles per business during the trial period.
Councilwoman Tisha Flora expressed concern that this was an agreement with businesses but rules have to be followed mostly by the consumers. How could the city guarantee that they would see the rules and understand. She said many don’t pay attention to the terms and conditions and will hit the agree button on the device without looking at them.
“They’re going to swipe their credit card and agree,” Flora said. “And then they’re off… I think that’s the biggest concern but at the same time I like it as a six-month thing.”
There were also concerns about scooters being driven in the winter. That they could get stuck in snow piles or hit by plows.
“OK, well what’s the pressure for us to do this anyway? We haven’t heard one good thing,” Councilwoman Sally Smith said. “Is anybody happy with them anywhere?”
Councilman Christopher Mann said he felt that they would be a great benefit to the downtown area.
“I think it’s worth the opportunity to look at this,” Mann said. “I’ve seen them in towns, I have great respect for our community here. I think our college kids, our high school kids are exceptional. I don’t think we’ll have the problems some communities have, I could be wrong. But I see it bringing life to a downtown area. And we have struggled for years on the council to say how can we revive our downtown? What we did on center street was a great project and I think that really helped. And I’d like to see us utilize that.”
Mann said they e-scooters look fun and that there is potential for locals to have a good time using them.
“It’s environmentally friendly, I think it’s fun, I think its recreational,” he said. “I would certainly like to see it and I think you’ve addressed a lot of concerns here.”