The piles of green, yellow and orange rental bikes on Dallas sidewalks may be long gone, but they’ve been replaced with a much smaller fleet of electric scooters.
Dallas City Council in late June 2018 legalized electric scooters — which travel up to 15 mph — initially for six months, but their stay in Dallas has been extended into the summer, The News reported in October. Within days the electric scooter startup Bird distributed 150 scooters throughout downtown and Uptown Dallas.
Curtis Morris, one of our readers, noticed the numerous scooters in the city, which led him to question where these scooters are and are not allowed to operate. That’s why he asked Curious Texas: Scooters seem to be everywhere. What are the rules on where they can be? Since they’re motorized, shouldn’t they be banned on the Katy Trail, on sidewalks or even in the middle of a car lane on a busy street?
Morris’ questions are part of Curious Texas, an ongoing project from The Dallas Morning News that invites you to join in our reporting process. The idea is simple: You have questions, and our journalists are trained to track down answers.
You can send us your Curious Texas questions by texting “DMN” to 214-817-3868. Follow the prompts and introduce yourself to us, share your story or questions, and we’ll text you with information as we report the story.
Our fiery summer is enough of a reason to convince anyone — both lifelong Dallasites and visitors alike — to hop on an electric scooter and zip to their destination rather than walking and risking being drenched in sweat.
But there are some rules of the road to learn before zooming away on a Bird, Like, Lyft, Spin or recently added Ojo scooter.
The Dallas City Council’s ordinance that legalized scooters also set some ground rules on where “dockless vehicles,” which are bikes, electric bikes and scooters that can be located and unlocked through a smartphone application.
Under the ordinance, users are not allowed to park scooters in a way that blocks pedestrians from using a sidewalk or drivers from traveling on a road or alley. Users are also prohibited from parking an electric scooter in spots that could cause injury to others or on private project, unless they have consent from the property’s owner.
The restrictions apply not only to where users can park their scooters, but also where they can ride them in Dallas.
Scooters must stay off sidewalks in downtown, the Cedars and Deep Ellum, where both scooters and bikes are prohibited by city code. These scooters have also been banned from the Katy Trail, although electric bikes are currently allowed there, and it installed signs prohibiting the use of scooters on the trail in the fall.
However, city officials have expressed concerns about the scooters in the past.
Dallas executive assistant chief David Pughes said last August that he didn’t believe the restrictions would keep riders off the sidewalks. He also said Dallas police were instructed to not ticket any law-breakers, The Newsreported.
Council member Philip Kingston has also repeatedly expressed concerns about the ban on those devices on public trails, where bicycles that are heavier and faster than scooters are allowed.
A tumble on a scooter sent a woman to the hospital with two black eyes, and a man died after falling off of one in Old East Dallas last fall.
But these incidents have not raised any concerns from City Council members. The scooters continue to zoom throughout Dallas for now — even in prohibited areas.