DURHAM, N.C. – Beginning next week, a new transportation option will be available in Durham - electric scooters.
The City of Durham’s Transportation Department plans to issue permits to four operators of e-scooters to allow them to begin operations on Thursday, June 13. The approved permits will allow each operator to place up to 200 e-scooters within the city initially, for a total of 800 e-scooters.
The operators who have received conditional approval, pending receipt of permit fees and required documentation, are Bird (black e-scooters); Gotcha (turquoise e-scooters); Lime (green e-scooters); and Spin (orange e-scooters).
Residents, City officials, local news media, and interested stakeholders will get an opportunity to check out a demonstration of the new e-scooters on Tuesday, June 11 at 10 a.m. at Durham Station Transportation Center, located at 515 W. Pettigrew St.
According to Interim Transportation Director Bill Judge, his department is constantly seeking new and innovative ways to help people easily access new transportation modes. “We are pleased that residents and visitors in Durham will have a new transportation option to try. Scooters can provide first- and last-mile connections to transit and serve residents who don’t have a car or prefer to drive less,” said Judge. “Ultimately, this is one way we’re working to provide equitable, accessible, multi-modal transportation services that meets the needs of our growing community and consumer demands.”
Last fall, the Durham City Council approved an ordinance that established the permit process and fees for shared active transportation, after holding work sessions and receiving public comments. In recent months, Transportation staff reviewed applications from companies interested in operating in Durham. Operators only submitted applications for e-scooters, but have the option to request permits for bicycles and electric bicycles in the future.
According to Judge, his team also made sure to further the City’s commitment to equitable transportation by requiring that 20 percent of each operator’s fleet be geographically accessible to persons who have low and moderate incomes. Each operator is also required to provide payment methods for customers who do not have credit or debit cards or smartphones.
Per the City ordinance, e-scooters must be ridden in the city streets and are not allowed on sidewalks or greenway trails. E-scooters will be treated similar to bicycles ridden on city streets. Other safety measures in the adopted ordinance include:
- Riders must be 16 years or older.
- Riders are encouraged to wear a helmet whenever they ride.
- Riders must follow local traffic laws (e.g. ride on the right side of the road, follow traffic signals and stop signs).
- Riders should park e-scooters upright and out of the way of pedestrians and moving vehicles.
- Scooters will generally be available from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, though availability may be dependent on the weather and other factors.
More information about the scooter program, including how to find and engage an e-scooter and report problems, is available on the Transportation Department’s webpage, and on the websites and smartphone apps of each of the operators.
According to Judge, Durham’s recent bike share pilot program shows that there is an appetite for shared active transportation in the Bull City. Over 2,000 new users rode a bike-share bike each month when the operators were in active service. Over 61,000 trips were completed, with riders accumulating over 50,000 miles during the pilot period. The operators of the bike share program, Spin and Lime, removed their bikes earlier this year and are now focused on e-scooters.
For additional information about e-scooters, residents are encouraged to visit the Transportation Department’s webpage or contact Transportation Planner Evan Tenenbaum at (919) 560-4366, ext. 36400 or by email.
About the City of Durham Transportation Department
The Transportation Department is responsible for a broad range of transportation services, which include traffic signs and signals, transportation planning, parking operations, street lighting, taxicab administration, and bicycle and pedestrian planning. The department also oversees GoDurham and GoDurham ACCESS as well as leads planning functions for the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (DCHC MPO), which is the regional organization that is responsible for planning and programming state and federal transportation projects in the urbanized areas of Durham, Orange, and Chatham counties. Guided by the City’s Strategic Plan, the department helps to strengthen the foundation, enhance the value, and improve the quality and sustainability of neighborhoods that are necessary for a strong and diverse community. For more information, follow the department on Twitter.