The E-Scooter debate; City of Ithaca leaders consider new PILOT program

Regional News

 In the city of Ithaca, people already have the option to rent bikes through a private company called Lime. That same company is hoping to add electronic scooters with a PILOT program soon.

“That helps us on the environmental front, it helps us on the parking issues, it helps us with traffic, helps us with general congestion in our environments,” said Jeff Goodmark, an Operations Manager with Lime.

Right now, in New York State, there are certain restrictions on e-scooters and e-bikes.

However, lawmakers are working to leave the decision whether to allow them up to local governments. In Ithaca, Lime is hoping to give full access to the scooters, allowing people to unlock them for $1 and pay 15 cents per minute to ride them.

“You come up to a scooter anywhere in the city, you use your app, and the app will show you where the scooters are and other vehicles around. You click scan to ride, you scan the code right there and it send an unlock signal to the scooter,” Goodmark said. 

Still, because it’s so unfamiliar, neighbors have some safety concerns.

“Even though they’re not supposed to, we had a huge concern that people would ride them on sidewalks which would be hazardous to pedestrians. I mean annoying at best, dangerous at worst,” said Donna Fleming with the Ithaca Common Council.

Some members of the common council don’t feel the city is prepared to handle a program like this one, saying it’s more of a risk than a benefit. But those at Lime are counting on neighbors to handle the scooters with care.

“Safety is paramount at Lime. That’s the thing that we care the most about at this point in order to educate our consumers and to educate our riders,” Goodmark said.

Lawmakers in both houses are expected to vote on the bill Wednesday, giving e-scooters and bikes the same rights as other vehicles on the road. The Ithaca Common Council is waiting on word from the mayor to move forward with an e-scooter program. 

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