- The Austin City Council approved an amended ordinance on Friday that clarifies it is illegal for dockless scooter or bike companies to leave vehicles on city right of way — including sidewalks and alleys — without a license, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
- The ordinance also clarifies the city has the right to impound unattended scooters or bikes, which will cost the respective companies $200 per vehicle.
- Dockless operators LimeBike and Bird released statements to KVUE on Sunday confirming that they would both remove vehicles from the city immediately on a temporary basis, until licenses can be issued.
The ordinance goes into effect Tuesday, therefore the dockless companies have little time to iron out details before potential enforcement. However, permissible deployment of dockless scooters and bikes in Austin is not out of reach. The Statesman reports that the city is working on a process that will allow such companies to receive a license quickly after applying. Companies will be charged $30 for each scooter or bike they hope to roll out in the city, with a limit of 500 vehicles permitted.
LimeBike and Bird were quick to react to the ordinance — both companies' statements express respect for the city and noted that they're excited to obtain permits — however their reputations are now slightly tarnished among local mobility companies, particularly Austin-based scooter company GOAT. Owner Michael Schramm told the Statesman there has been "damage done" to companies like his that have patiently waited to obtain the proper license while larger companies broke the rules.
Austin joins a long list of cities that have faced issues surrounding the "clutter conundrum" that has resulted from the dockless bike and scooter trend. Just this month, San Francisco began impounding dockless scooters after they had reportedly been obstructing city sidewalks, and leaders in Dallas have begun mulling regulations to govern dockless bike-share after a tumultuous few months since the city manager demanded the companies clean up their acts. As the dockless trend continues to spread, it is in the best interest of operators to develop creative solutions to minimize "littering" and improper vehicle use, or else more cities are likely to crack down.