Gilbert staff talks scooter pilot program, but some council members remain skeptics

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Gilbert staff recommended to Town Council on Feb. 21 an open pilot program for micromobility options, such as the Bird scooters that appeared in town without warning in November.

The details of a pilot program would be fleshed out in time for the March 7 council meeting, including a draft ordinance and draft agreement that would be used with companies partnering in the program.

As presented Feb. 21, an open program would allow multiple micromobility companies into the market. That would give the town more data to analyze as it studies how to handle the scooters.

However, at least two council members still have concerns about the scooters, with Vice Mayor Eddie Cook saying he still prefers a temporary ban on them.

“All of the discussion we have had indicates to me we haven’t had time to think through this,” Cook said.

Cook also expressed concern about how much staff time was being spent on the project.

Council Member Scott Anderson voiced similar concerns on timing and wondered about what infrastructure would be required to safely accommodate the scooters.

“The only thing that still makes me nervous is the idea that this is going to evolve over time,” Anderson said. “I think we’re being forced into something that we’re not ready to accept yet.”

Transportation planner Nichole McCarty, who made the presentation to council, said staff had similar concerns about how Bird started the program in town without warning to Gilbert but still saw value in starting a pilot program.

McCarty said staff believes micromobility is here to stay, so the pilot program can help town understand it and evolve with it.

“We wished we could have got out in front of this,” she said. “But at the same time, I think we internally want to kick off that bigger-picture thinking right away.”

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Tom Blodgett
Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent 30 years in journalism in Arizona and is the editor of the Gilbert edition of Community Impact Newspaper. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he now serves as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.
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