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Rochester hops on electric scooter trend


City of Rochester officials expect by the end of this year's session in June,  the State Legislature will pass a law legalizing the use of electric scooters on New York's roads.

And when that happens, they want Zagster, which operates a city-wide bike sharing program, to set up public electric scooter share system. Mayor Lovely Warren has submitted legislation to City Council that would authorize Zagster to operate the program within the public rights-of-way and on publicly owned lands in Rochester. But that authorization would only apply "if and when the state legalizes the use of electric scooters on public roads," according to the legislation.

The legislation says that Zagster would be ready to deploy 400 electric scooters in the city when it launches the service. The scooters — which look like souped-up versions of foot-powered scooters, not moped-style scooters — would have a top speed of 15 miles an hour. Fares for the program would be kept affordable through sponsorships and advertising, the legislation says.

Zagster operates the city's Pace bike-share system, which has been incredibly popular. But Pace hasn't been without problems. Theft and loss was a big problem during the 2018 season, leaving many racks around town frequently empty. The company ultimately transferred some bikes from Ithaca to fill the gap, and also brought in a fleet of new bikes with stronger security.

The company promotes the electric scooters as an additional mobility choice. And the mayor's legislation says that "scooter sharing, like bike sharing, can reduce the use of traditional automobiles, increase rates of public transit use by addressing the 'first-mile/last-mile gap, and reduce parking demand."

In other cities, electric scooters — a relatively new transportation trend — have a short but complicated record: Some people love them, others hate them. A quick search of news article about electric scooters came up with the following: