Scoot Over for Scooters

by Thomas P. Healy

More dockless electric scooters from more providers could appear in more places around Indy now that the City of Indianapolis Board of Business and Neighborhood Services (BNS) has approved new regulations. [PDF]

The City will now license up to six shared mobility operators. Currently three scooter companies have licenses, and Pacers Bikeshare holds one license, so that leaves two available slots. Each dockless scooter purveyor is limited to 1,000 total units, which means that up to 5,000 scooters could eventually swarm the city.

In addition, high utilization and access zones have been established where vendors must place a certain percentage of devices. “The main goal of these regulations is to ensure that no area of the city is over- or underserved by dockless shared mobility,” BNS director Brian Madison said.


During a May 10 presentation to the BNS board, Sonya Seeder, administrator of BNS’s bureau of license and permit services, said the department has been collecting and analyzing data from scooter companies since the City-County Council’s licensing ordinance went into effect in September 2018. Working with other City departments, including the Department of Metropolitan Development (DMD), and in collaboration with license holders, BNS crafted new fleet size and distribution requirements.

Daniel Hedglin, senior planner for information and innovation in DMD’s long-range planning team, said he analyzed data in relation to the Indy Moves transit integration plan [PDF] to help define high-usage zones and access zones. “We did that through data analysis of people and places (such as location of BRT lines) and the Equity Index from the Indy Moves plan that highlights neighborhoods with a high rate of non-automobile access,” he said. “We want to give more people additional transportation options.”

BNS’s Seeder said one of the items under evaluation was the minimum utilization rate (MUR). “The rate is changed to more accurately reflect the total daily number of rides divided by the number of devices on the street over a one-month period of time.” Previously, the MUR reflected the total daily rides divided by the maximum total devices available to the operator in a month.

She said the decision whether to increase or decrease a system size (fleet size) is largely determined by the MUR and compliance with new distribution requirements in both high utilization and access zones. Seder added that the decision is also based upon all available data, including seasonal shifts, special events, compliance with rules and regulations, compliance with ADA standards, parking complaints, accident reports, delinquent payments, and community outreach.

A version of this article appeared in the June/July 2019 print edition of the magazine.