West Lafayette City Council Passes Scooter Regulation Ordinance

Mar 5, 2019

Companies like Bird and Lime dropped hundreds of scooters in several Indiana communities last year.
Credit Drew Daudelin / WFYI News

The West Lafayette City Council has passed an ordinance creating operating fees and fines for electric scooter companies hoping to bring their services to the city. But officials say companies willing to work together with the city to regulate the scooters could pay less.

The ordinance requires scooter companies such as Bird or Lime to pay an annual fee of $15,000 to operate in the city. They would also have to pay $1 per scooter, per day.

That would cost a company like Bird, which reported having 1,700 scooters in the city last year, hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to maintain operations.

But city development director Erik Carlson says the ordinance also includes a chance for companies to reduce those costs if they reach an agreement with the city.

“If there’s an entity that we particularly want to work with that we feel offers a service that will not tax the staff of the city of West Lafayette like we were in the fall of last year,” Carlson says.

The ordinance is based on similar regulations passed in Indianapolis last year. Carlson says the fees shouldn’t deter scooter companies.

He says that’s because their target demographic is college students.

“And here we have an inordinate number of people in that target,” Carlson says.

Carlson says the ordinance will likely be published in the next week, and the Board of Works will approve the proposed application for interested companies in two weeks.

Bird withdrew its scooters for the winter season, but is expected to resume service when the weather improves.