After months of research and deliberation, City Council voted in favor of allowing e-scooter and micro-mobility companies to operate in Springfield.
Council Bill 143 passed with a unanimous 8-0 vote on June 13. Although council members were not without their doubts, the consensus is that, with the right implementation and patience, e-scooters can be successful in Springfield.
“I’m very pleased to be able to say that e-scooters are coming,” Mayor Ken McClure said. “But I just warn all of us to be safe. I think we have some risk on safety and possibly administrative risk. So, while they’re coming and I’m pleased to support it, I will vote for it, let’s do it the right way.”
Jen Cox, the university space manager and director of support services at Missouri State University, who has been a big proponent of e-scooters coming to Springfield, went into detail about what doing it the “right way” might look like in a previous story by the Springfield Daily Citizen.
Cities have had varying degrees of success (and sometimes failure) in rolling out micro-mobility devices. Without the right planning and coordination with the companies who make these devices, cities have dealt with cluttered sidewalks and pedestrian safety issues, among other problems.
Martin Gugel, the assistant director of Public Works for the City of Springfield, initially submitted the council bill that proposed e-scooters. The department will work closely with the micro-mobility companies to ensure that geofencing, speed limits, and parking requirements are all considered, among other safety regulations.
“For those that are concerned, I would say just be patient, bear with us and help us out by, if you see problems, let us know,” Gugel said.
Gugel sees several benefits e-scooters could bring to Springfield, including transporting locals and visitors around to minimize walking and driving, and to better connect the continuously expanding MSU.
“We want it to work, companies want it to work, so it’s a measured approach,” Gugel said. “Will there be growing pains? I’d be shocked if there weren’t, but we have things set up to be able to address those problems when they come up.”
Gugel acknowledged that while there is hope for these micro-mobility devices to debut in 2022, supply chain issues and the start-up process could potentially delay it until 2023.