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Dockless bikes and scooters get thumbs-up from city

Council creates licensing and penalty mechanisms

LimeBike scooters in Washington, D.C. Shutterstock

The Austin City Council paved the way for legal operation of dockless bike and scooter companies on its streets Thursday, according to a Friday story on KUT-FM’s website, voting to add them to an existing ordinance that prohibits abandoned vehicles from blocking rights-of-way and creating a system for their legal operation in the city.

The council took up the matter of setting up a pilot program for the vehicles sooner than it originally planned due to pressure created by companies LimeBike and Bird, which introduced dockless electronic scooters to Austin streets earlier this month after being shut out of initial community forums held to discuss dockless bike sharing.

The measure the council approved Thursday gives the Austin Transportation Department the ability to impound vehicles violating the current ordinance and includes a plan giving providers the ability to apply for a license to operate legally in the city, according to KUT, which added that license applications might be available by May 1.

The move represents the acceleration of the initially planned pilot program, which will be in place for the next six months, according to the story. The city will charge licensed operators $30 per vehicle per day and $200 to release impounded vehicles, KUT reports, and limits providers’ allowable number of vehicles to 500 per type.