How people feel about Omaha’s electric scooters is a matter of perspective.
Riders say the scooters are hip, fun and convenient for short trips. But many pedestrians and drivers have a different view.
The city is gathering data and public input as part of its six-month pilot program with scooters. When the trial run ends in mid-November, city officials will decide whether to ban the rental scooters or allow their continued use in Omaha, with regulations.
The city has been working with smartphone app-based scooter companies Lime and Spin to gather data on the number of local rides, where the scooters are being ridden and where the scooters are left, or parked.
The results so far show scooter use clustered in four areas that are part of the pilot program — downtown, Midtown Crossing, Aksarben Village and Benson.
City maps also show riders going onto neighborhood streets and into other areas where riders were prohibited, including the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge.
Some on the City Council have questioned whether the companies are doing enough to keep people from riding where scooters are prohibited.
Omaha residents are sounding off to city leaders, including Mayor Jean Stothert, who approved the pilot program that started in May.
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Most people who have contacted the Mayor’s Hotline by email or phone say they want the scooters more heavily regulated or gone, city records show.
Many people who emailed the city, including downtown resident Melanie Hecker, don’t like encountering the scooters on sidewalks, where they are prohibited.
Others, including John Wright, don’t like driving near the scooters on the streets, where they are allowed, just like a bicycle.
Some, including pediatrician Dr. Tina Scott-Mordhorst, expressed worry about rider injuries. She said her 25-year-old son broke his arm on a scooter in Omaha.
Several people, including Benson’s Cheri Harris and Sherri Harding, said poorly parked scooters limit sidewalk access for disabled people and the elderly.
Scooter critics are butting heads with a committed core of enthusiasts, most of whom are riding scooters for trips of less than a mile.
One of those is Marianna Foral, who wrote the mayor that she uses the scooters for trips that are “a little too far to walk or if I’m short on time.”
“I recently hosted some friends from Kansas City who are considering relocating to Omaha,” Foral wrote. “They loved the benefit of the scooters (in Omaha) and were impressed that our city has this to offer.”
Some of the riders are the young professionals that civic leaders say Omaha needs to attract and retain to stay vibrant.
John Fahrer, owner of Scriptown Brewing Co. in the Blackstone District, said he enjoys having the scooters around, as do many of his customers.
Some riders don’t park the scooters correctly and leave them near the entrances to businesses or blocking access to crosswalks. That can be a nuisance near a business, he said. But things have gotten better as the pilot goes on.
In fact, he said, he’s ridden the scooters himself, including for a quick trip to the bank, giving the drive-through teller a story to tell.
“I see people abiding by the rules,” Fahrer said.
City Council President Chris Jerram said this week that he’s receiving fewer complaints and comments about the scooter pilot program than when it first began.
Jerram, who represents south-central Omaha, including parts of downtown and the Blackstone District, said he’ll wait until the pilot program ends to weigh in.
Ben Gray, whose north Omaha district stretches to the riverfront and parts of downtown, said he has heard no complaints lately about scooters.
Councilman Pete Festersen, whose north-central Omaha district includes Benson, said he’s heard from people who love and hate the scooters.
He said he wants to learn more about how effectively the scooter companies can enforce limits on where the scooters can be ridden before the council makes its decision.
Jen Bauer, president of the Aksarben-Elmwood Park Neighborhood Association, said she wants more clarity about what can be done to restrict the scooters’ use.
Residents of her south- central Omaha neighborhood enjoy walking in the area, she said, but some are nervous about getting hit by a scooter.
“They’re not supposed to be on the sidewalk, but they’re on the sidewalk,” she said. “We thought there were boundaries, and there are no boundaries.”
The scooter companies serving Omaha, Lime and Spin, have said they are working with the city to encourage riders to follow the rules.
Both have told the city that they are continuing to work on programs to better enforce geographic restrictions on where the scooters can go and improve users’ riding and parking choices.
About 20 people were injured for every 100,000 scooter rides in Austin, Texas, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found.
The numbers in Omaha, where the program is newer, are slightly higher, based on early estimates.
Local hospitals report about 65 injuries related to scooters. Omaha riders have taken more than 148,000 trips through Aug. 20, according to data provided to the city.
Lime spokesman Alex Youn said it’s clear that people in Omaha are enjoying the scooters.
Stothert said in a statement that the city is using the pilot program “to evaluate the pros and cons before we consider a city ordinance that would allow scooters beyond the test period.”
“We will review all the feedback from citizens, data that measures the use of scooters, injury reports and the number of citations issued by Omaha police,” Stothert said. “Public safety must always be the first consideration.”
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The moon rose over the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge in the early morning hours.
On the 75th anniversary of D-Day, Ed Morrissette a 95-year-old WWII veteran of Papillion, reminisced while toasting to his fallen comrades with a drink accompanied by John Adams, Tom Demro, Antonio Chickinelli and Jeff Hadden at Patriarch Distillers Inc. in La Vista, Nebraska, Thursday, June 6, 2019. Morrissette who was part of the second wave on D-Day at Omaha Beach drank a Canada Dry while the others had Soldier Valley Omaha Beach D-Day 75th anniversary bourbon whiskey.
Major League Baseball debuted in Omaha on Thursday June 13th as the Royals faced the Tigers at TD Ameritrade Park.
Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera signed autographs for fans prior to a Major League Baseball game against the Kansas City Royals at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska, on Thursday, June 13, 2019.
Omaha Burke's Jaylon Roussell jogged the field people to participating in the Nebraska Cornhuskers Friday Night Lights event at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Louisville's Adam Elliott warmed up before the start of game 7 of the College World Series.
Louisville's Drew Campbell celebrated a walk-off win on his hit in the bottom of the 9th against Mississippi State during game ten of the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park.
Te'Andi Titus, left, and Kevin Kalaw, both of Omaha, read on the dock at Standing Bear Lake as a cool breeze swept over the lake, keeping the mosquitoes at bay.
Vanderbilt and Michigan faced off in the College World Series finals at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska in 2019.
Michigan's Jordan Brewer and Jack Blomgren celebrated after defeating Vanderbilt in their College World Series game.
A B-2 stealth bomber flew over as Michigan stands during the National Anthem before their College World Series game.
Vanderbilt faces Michigan during their College World Series game.
Vanderbilt's Harrison Ray signed autographs before the start of game 3 of the CWS championship.
Vanderbilt fans celebrate at the Commodores capture a national title with a win over Michigan.
Michigan players mingled prior to their College World Series game against Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt celebrated their win over Michigan during the third game of the champion series of the College World Series.
Chris Isaak performed at the free Memorial Park Concert at Memorial Park.
Omaha firefighter David Kirchofer provided water to Louie the dog, after Kirchofer helped battle a a fire at 5427 86th Court. Louie, who does not live in the unit that caught fire, was interested in all the action.
Ray Renk of San Francisco, California, holds his daughter Kennedy, 8, alongside his son Benjamin, 10, while sporting personalized suits and watching Warren Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, walk the convention floor during the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting at the CHI Health Center Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska, Saturday, May 4, 2019.
Phoebe the giraffe eats lettuce fed by visitors as the Lincoln Children's Zoo provides a sneak peek at their new exhibits and expansion in Lincoln, Nebraska, Thursday, May 9, 2019.
Lincoln Southeast’s Katie Whitehead, center, and Caroline Miller, right, celebrate with teammates including Ally Keitges, left, after winning the No. 1 doubles against Millard North during the NSAA Class A girls state tennis championship match at Koch Family Tennis Center in Omaha, Nebraska, Friday, May 17, 2019.
Omaha Bryanâ€™s Darwin Loftin lands a long jump during the Metro Conference track meet at Omaha Burke.
Millard West's Corbin Hawkins waits out the rain delay in the dugout. The baseball game between Millard West and Creighton Prep was postponed because of the weather.
Archbishop Bergan's Luke Jessen hits the center field wall trying to catch a hit from Millard West's Max Anderson resulting in an in-field home run during their state tournament game.
Crawford's Jillian Brennan (13) points up to the sky before the Class D 3,200-meter final at Omaha Burke High School during day one of the state track meet.
Gretna's Ashley Marsh connects with the ball alongside Marian's Maureen Tolley during the semifinal round of the Class A girls state soccer tournament at Morrison Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska, Saturday, May 11, 2019.
Elkhorn South players celebrate their championship while reading the name plate on the trophy after defeating Skutt during the NSAA Class B girls state soccer championship game Morrison Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska, Tuesday, May 14, 2019.
Jacob Himelick, left, a Millard north senior, chats with fellow senior Jace January as he signs January's year book. January likes to spend the time between classes greeting fellow students in the hallway.
Hannah Gruhlkey hugs her goat Griffin as he nibbles on her hair during a Country Bumpkin 4-H Club meeting at the Living Legend Farm.
Chipper Fyfe stands on a dike to see how far floodwaters have risen just west of Hamburg, Iowa.
Nebraska pitchers stay loose before their NCAA Regional game in Oklahoma City.
Tad Badje, 49, right, and wife Shelly Badje, 48, pepper Title Boxing Club's general manager, Chris Gerhardt's mid-section during a two-on-one body shot race as part of their work out at Title Boxing Club in Omaha, Nebraska.
Two-year-old Hannah Bonnot of Denver, Colorado, stands in awe before "Mountain Outlaw" taken at Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, on display at Tom Mangelsen's "Life in the Wild" exhibition at the Durham Museum in Omaha, Nebraska.
A deer walks through the tall grass at Chalco Hills Recreation Area in Omaha, Nebraska.
Canada geese fly over Flanagan Lake at sunset in Omaha, Nebraska.
The sunset is reflected in some open water at Flanagan Lake in Omaha, Nebraska.
Ian Murphy, canvases the nearly 90 snow people which are on display at the Leavenworth Park in Omaha, Nebraska. Neighbors such as Murphy say the snow people didn't exist yesterday and claim it happened over night or possibly early this morning.
Husker fans rock The Rock and corn hats in the first half as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln men's basketball team hosts Michigan State at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska.
An allosaurus appears to be eyeing a tasty, 19-month-old morsel named Austin Haseltine as he is lifted from the shoulders of his grandpa, Greg Fasano, by his mother, Amy Haseltine, with his father, Jim Haseltine looking on. The Dinosaur UpROAR exhibit at Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft Street in Omaha, Nebraska, features 20 life-sized installations as well as discovery stations and educational activities set throughout the gardens.
The setting moon is framed by some dried flowers at Lake Zorinsky in Omaha, Nebraska.
A person goes for a run along the snow covered trails at Lake Zorinsky in Omaha, Nebraska.
The sun rises on a snow covered Lake Zorinsky in Omaha, Nebraska.
Pink and blue balloons float past the Sower statue on the Nebraska State Capitol after balloons were released for the 45th annual Nebraska Walk for Life in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Steam rises over north downtown Omaha, Nebraska, as morning lows were below -10 degrees.
Water covers a road near Valley, Nebraska, on Friday, March 15, 2019.
Heavy machinery stacks up concrete chunks on the shore of the Elkhorn River at the Q Street bridge as part of an effort to stabilize the bank on the recently flooded river.
Sarpy County Sheriff's Deputy Darin Morrissey rides an ATV through floodwaters in Hawaiian Village.
Omaha Roncalli's Shane Orr celebrates their double overtime win over Aurora during a semifinal game in the Class B Nebraska state basketball tournament at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
The Auburn bench and crowd react to Auburn's Cameron Binder hitting what would be the game winning shot against North Bend Central during the championship game in the Class C1 Nebraska state basketball tournament at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Nebraskaâ€™s Adrian Martinez runs out of the end zone after a play during spring football practice at the Hawks Championship Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Treyton Gubser, left, and his uncle Daniel Gubser paddle using shovels through the floodwaters after they rescued Daniel's kid's cat, Bob, in Hamburg, Iowa.
Highway 81 is covered in floodwaters south of Columbus, Nebraska.