(Nebraska City) — Nebraska City could soon become the latest city in the country with an electric scooter rental program.
Meeting in regular session Monday evening, the Nebraska City Commissioners approved an ordinance establishing a public right-of-way shared mobility device pilot program in the community. Mayor Bryan Bequette says the ordinance lays the groundwork for a pilot program that would place electric scooters around the community that could be rented for use. He says the city was approached by Bird Bikeshare — a company that operates similar programs in Lincoln and around the world — about establishing a pilot program in the community.
“Folks can sign up on an app, approach a scooter, get it to activate and then they can ride around on an electric scooter,” said Bequette. “We’ve been approached by that company, saying they would like to pilot it in Nebraska City to see how we liked it. We had to develop an ordinance and go through everything to get all of that in place.”
Bequette says the city is going to put out a request for qualifications to see if any other companies are interested in a similar program. He says the ordinance outlines several requirements for the program, including where the electic scooters could be used.
“You would have to be 18 years or older,” said Bequette. “Folks would have to go online and download an app. My understanding on those is that they would have to put in a credit card to be able to pay for the service. The city would have to — working with our roads and our police department — would have to designate the streets that these scooters could operate on. Once you approach the boundary, you slow, but we can designate different parts of the city on where they can and can’t go. The navigation is actually sensitive enough to be able to tell which road you’re on.”
Another stipulation of the program would be a requirement for the company to maintain an employee in the community.
“There would have to be a local manager — a local face — that would be managing this if we had issues or to be able to go out and collect the scooters, recharge them and do maintenance,” said Bequette.
Current cities utilizing Bird’s program vary in size, but most are large metropolitan areas. Bequette says Nebraska City’s large tourism industry makes it an interesting candidate for a pilot program.
“We are kind of a city on the bubble with the number of folks that we normally have,” said Bequette. “But, we do have a lot of weekend tourism, so that’s why the first company was interested. They did say it was worth a pilot for them to see if a city of our size worked well or not and how it went. That’s really why they also want to do a pilot program.”
Under the proposal, the city would sign a one-year agreement for the pilot program with the option to extend the agreement going forward. In addition to placing an RFQ, the commissioners reviewed a draft agreement for a potential partner company. More discussion is expected at a future council meeting. Bequette was a guest on KMA’s Morning Line Program Tuesday. You can hear his full interview below.