ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockford city leaders consider a plan that would bring motorized scooters for rent to the area. However, zipping around the Forest City wouldn’t come without a few rules.
Local leaders are hopeful that electric scooters could provide a fun, new way for people to get around. But acknowledge the program’s success hinges on whether riders could stay in designated travel zones and obey traffic laws.
“I’ve seen people on scooters in other cities, other communities I’ve spent time in. I’ve seen folks on scooters, and it looks fun,” said Rockford resident Daniel Jenkins.
Rockford is now one step closer to welcoming a new electric scooter sharing program. The planning and development committee approved a pilot agreement with Bird rides Monday night.
“Somebody may not want to walk 8 blocks to get somewhere, to the restaurant they want to eat at or the event they want to go to, and they may just be able to hop on one of these and ride it 8 blocks,” said 3rd Ward Alderman Chad Tuneberg.
The vote for the program was split 3-2. Several aldermen argued that Lime bikes, a similar service which debuted in Rockford back in 2018, caused serious problems.
But Ald. Tuneberg says Lime bikes were invaluable for some residents as an alternate form of transportation.
“Limebikes were not just used for recreational purposes. They were used for individuals who needed to use it to get to work or to get to the bus,” said Ald. Tuneberg.
“Obviously I think it was trying to get them all coordinated on where they were, and how they were used, and where they were left, and how people used and or abused them,” explained Rockford resident Doug Mark. “But I think if there’s a system that’s trackable, that’s enforceable and usable, and friendly to use, it certainly has merit.”
Under the proposal, people would only be able to use the scooters in certain areas of the city. In fact, the vehicles would slow down and become inoperable if riders traveled outside of these spaces.
Scooters would be allowed on streets, bike lanes, and bike paths–not sidewalks.
“I think I’m somewhat adventurous, so I’d be willing to get out there and try the scooters and enjoy myself,” said Jenkins.
The agreement still needs to be approved by the full city council. If it is, officials expect scooters will be available sometime later this year.