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Omaha will join the cool-kid cities that have electric scooters, at least temporarily.

The Omaha City Council voted 6-0 Tuesday to approve agreements with scooter companies Lime and Spin to allow and regulate the trendy urban transports for a six-month pilot program.

People will be able to start riding them Friday, probably. Lime’s city launcher, Kris Alborz, said his company had hoped to deploy scooters to Omaha streets Wednesday but decided to hold off because of rainy weather.

“I don’t want people to have to play that game you guys play here, puddle or pothole, on the first day,” Alborz said.

The zippy little battery-powered, stand-up personal transport devices have buzzed around the world in recent years. Lime alone has fleets in 100 cities in 20 countries across five continents, Alborz told the City Council.

It was only a matter of time until they came to Omaha. City officials decided to take a proactive approach of signing operating agreements and setting up regulations for a pilot program with a couple of companies before a vendor just swooped in with a bunch of scooters and no regulations.

Scooters will initially be available in downtown, midtown and Benson. To know exactly where, you’ll either have to look for them or download the Lime (or presumably Spin) app and look for the locations. Alborz said he didn’t know specific locations yet.

It will cost $1 to unlock a Lime scooter, and 29 cents a minute to ride it, Alborz told the council. It’s unknown what Spin will charge or when they will put scooters on Omaha streets. No Spin representative spoke to the council Tuesday.

The scooters travel up to 15 mph.

Certain zones will be off-limits, including immediately around TD Ameritrade Park, in MECA parking lots and in portions of the riverfront and Old Market.

You can ride them only on streets, using bike lanes when available. You can’t ride them on sidewalks, or on multilane streets with speed limits of 35 mph or more.

The companies’ agreements with riders require them to wear helmets, but the city doesn’t require that. It’s unclear how that rule would be enforced, or if people will even be aware of it. Alborz said the helmet rule is in the agreement people have to consent to before they can ride. Councilman Chris Jerram noted that people are unlikely to read the agreements before hopping on and zipping off.

There are also rules on where scooters can be parked so they don’t block pedestrian traffic or access to businesses.

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Each company can deploy from 100 to 750 scooters in Omaha. Lime plans to launch with about 200 to 250, Alborz told the council.

Scott Dobbe, executive director of Omaha by Design, applauded the council and lauded the imminent advent of scooters.

“It’s wonderful how the city’s getting out in front through this agreement and providing public oversight of issues like safety, rider education, community engagement and equity,” he said.

He said his organization sees great potential in shared scooters as “one small but important part of the puzzle” that would provide options, promote vibrancy and livability in neighborhoods, and better connect people to employment and education.

City Council members had questions and some worries.

Pete Festersen said he had ridden Lime scooters in Santa Monica, California.

“It was well done there, and it is fun, and I think it adds to our urban fabric of a city to have these,” Festersen said.

But he said some cons can be how scooter riders interact with motorists and pedestrians, and scooters’ potential to clutter up sidewalks.

Alborz said they’ll prevent clutter by making sure people know where they’re supposed to park them, and by having employees straighten up or move sloppily parked scooters.

Council members had been told that through “geo-fencing,” the scooters will stop operating when they reach a forbidden area. But Alborz said that it wouldn’t be safe for them to just suddenly stop while being ridden.

Actually, people won’t be able to shut off their scooter and end their ride in a no-go zone — so they’ll continue being charged. The company will send text messages to riders’ phones repeatedly until they remove the scooter from the no-go zone, Alborz said.

He said the app has maps showing where riders aren’t supposed to scoot. Council members doubted that riders would look at those maps.

Councilman Vinny Palermo asked if signs will be erected marking the no-go zones. City officials said they’ll consider doing that.

Jerram, noting that his district, including the narrow-sidewalk destination neighborhood of Blackstone, will see the bulk of the scooters. He predicted problems with scooter riders weaving around potholes and competing with vehicles in traffic and with parked scooters blocking sidewalks.

“I’m one of the biggest champions of transportation alternatives in this city,” Jerram said. “But I’m very skeptical about what the city’s about to be inundated with. And I want the public ... to go into this with their eyes wide open.

“When the sun sets and these things are on the road and people don’t know how to brake and they’re not wearing helmets, it’s Katie bar the door for safety.”

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