E-scooters coming to Fayetteville this weekend

E-scooters at SXWS in Austin, Texas / Photo: Anthony Quintano

E-scooters are expected to hit the streets in Fayetteville as early as Friday, Nov. 8.

Two companies – Spin and Lime – were recently issued permits to launch e-scooter operations within the city limits. Both companies are headquartered in San Francisco, but will have local offices and staff to manage operations in the Fayetteville market, according to a news release.

City officials said a 10-square-mile service area was implemented for shared e-scooters, and will be consistent with the existing VeoRide bike-share boundaries.

The scooters are capable of speeds up to 15 mph, but can be set to automatically slow down in specified zones as deemed necessary for safety. Slow zones have been set in some areas of the UA campus with heavy pedestrian traffic.

Electric scooters can be ridden legally anywhere bicycles are allowed, including streets and paved trails. Riding e-scooters on sidewalks is not permitted where the sidewalk abuts a building. Riders are required to always yield to pedestrians, and are asked to park e-scooters at bike racks or in other appropriate areas not blocking pedestrian or vehicle access.

Users will be required to photograph their parked scooter and submit the image via mobile phone as part of finalizing their rental. Some areas will be designated as no-parking zones using geo-fence technology. If a scooter is parked in a no-parking zone, the scooter will give an audible alert to notify the rider to move to an appropriate area.

A new state law that went into effect in July requires Arkansas municipalities to allow e-scooter companies to set up shop on public property whether the cities and residents want them or not.

While the new law doesn’t let cities ban e-scooter companies from operating, some late changes to the measure did give municipalities the right to establish “reasonable” rules regarding the use of e-scooters and how the vendor operate.

The City Council quickly approved a set of rules, and since then, the city and University of Arkansas have been working in tandem to approve and issue vendor permits.

Scooter-share companies must hold a valid city permit in order to acquire a permit approved by the university. Companies must renew their permits every six months to comply with local and state regulations. Permit fees are expected to total approximately $45,000 annually and the funds will be used to offset additional city and UA staff time associated with managing the e-scooter program. Funds will also be used to pay for bike and pedestrian infrastructure and safety initiatives.

The city’s regulations allow for 250 e-scooters per vendor with a total cap of 500 scooters. Officials said the public can expect to see up to 200 e-scooters available when the first round launches this weekend, with more set to be added incrementally.