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Fort Wayne pulls the plug on public electric scooters

A line of Public E-Scooters on the 500 block of South Harrison Street near the Landing in downtown Fort Wayne
Rebecca Green
/
89.1 WBOI
A line of Public E-Scooters on the 500 block of South Harrison St. near the Landing in downtown Fort Wayne

The City of Fort Wayne is terminating its partnership with Veo, the company that owns the electric scooters parked around downtown that people can use.

In a statement released Tuesday, city officials said, “Increasingly, residents and business owners have raised concerns about safety and proper usage and issues have arisen with some riders using scooters recklessly and negligently.”

Second District City Councilman Russ Jehl, an opponent of the Veo partnership from its inception in 2019, said it has gone the way he feared when the City Council approved the pilot program.

“(I’d) seen these in other cities,” Jehl said. “They look very trashy when they’re not administered very well. It was very apparent that with no good administration without proper controls, they’d make the downtown look like a constant yard sale and be a constant nuisance as far as lack of safety goes, and that has certainly been the case.”

The city’s press release went on to say “no tax dollars were used to support the program.”

Jehl disagreed.

“So much of Downtown Improvement District’s budget was going to cleaning the sidewalks with all of the burnout marks from the scooters as well as chipping sidewalks from jumping curbs and things like that,” Jehl said. “ So, I respectfully disagree with the assumption that there was nothing lost from the public’s perspective.”

The city’s statement included details from Veo about what is happening with its electric scooters in other cities around Indiana.

  • Elkhart had e-scooters operated by Bird in 2018, but are no longer in use. The company folded or pulled them from the city.
  • In July, Bloomington’s Board of Public Works approved a new application for scooter company licensing and was reviewing whether scooter companies could be fined for illegal parking by their users.
  • In Carmel, e-scooters are prohibited, but the city launched a bike share program in 2018.
  • In Columbus, e-scooters are prohibited, but the city’s parks foundation launched a bike share program. It ceased operations in 2019 for lack of sustainability.
  • South Bend’s agreement goes through the end of this year, and the city will be reassessing then. The city requires an annual license $10,000 for the provider. They have up to 200 scooters and no more than 15 e-bicycles. Multiple riders are prohibited from using a single source of payment and the shared mobility devices cannot go on the University of Notre Dame’s campus. In addition, Howard Park has geofencing that slows the speed of the scooters outside its area.

City officials in Fort Wayne did not specify if there were any recent incident prompted the termination of the partnership.
Jehl said he had heard that it was because the city was being sued over an incident involving the scooters.

When asked if there was such a lawsuit, the city’s legal department acknowledged the lawsuit in a statement, but said that it was not the reason the scooters were being eliminated. They declined to comment further on pending litigation.

Officials said Veo has until Sept. 4 to remove its electric scooters.

Tony Sandleben joined the WBOI News team in September of 2022.