A part-time temp worker documents an improperly parked scooter at 6th & Walnut streets Oct. 11, 2022
North Walnut Street Feb. 21, 2023 (This scooter was reported to the city and moved out of the ADA ramp by The B Square.
North Walnut Street Feb. 23, 2023. These scooters were reported to the city and moved out of the sidewalk by The B Square.
In late 2021, The B Square reported that no citations had been issued to scooter companies for violating the parking regulations laid out in a local ordinance, which was approved by the city council in July 2019.
When no ordinary parking tickets were issued to scooter companies, that came as a surprise to some residents—given the number of scooters they routinely encountered blocking ADA ramps and sidewalks in the downtown area, or in their residential neighborhoods.
The lack of any citations was especially unexpected, in light of the assurance given by city attorney Mike Rouker on July 31, 2019— the night the city council enacted the scooter ordinance. Rouker said that if scooter parking became a problem, parking fines would be imposed on scooter companies whenever the city saw a parking problem.
In August 2022, The B Square raised a question to Bloomington’s corporation counsel, Beth Cate, about the enforceability of the city’s ordinance that regulates shared electric scooter parking. That email went unanswered.
But last week, six months later, Bloomington’s director of economic and sustainable development, Alex Crowley, wrote in response to an emailed question from The B Square: “[T]he language in the ordinance needs to be tightened up, to give us the flexibility to impose fines on [scooter company] without having to impound.” Continue reading “Bloomington concedes: Simple tickets can’t be given to scooter companies for bad parking by their users”
A week ago, up at Miller-Showers Park, a flock of Canada geese banked overhead and came in for a landing on the southernmost stormwater detention pond.
The surface was half frozen, because a couple days before the temperature had dropped to –8 F.
As elegant as geese appear in flight formation, on landing they do not make a picture of grace. They sort of wobble along the final approach, webbed feet akimbo, before mostly crashing into the water.
But they were, of course, unscathed. They started cruising around, dabbling for whatever aquatic plants were under the surface.
That’s somewhat like how local government works: It’s elegant and smooth in theory, but when it lands on some particular topic near you, it might look a little clumsy. You might get splashed.
Where will Bloomington’s area local government land in 2023? Here’s a roundup of spots that is surely not exhaustive. Continue reading “Column: Looking ahead to local government news in 2023 like a goose landing on a half frozen pond”
A temporary city of Bloomington employee documents a scooter parking violation. (Oct. 11, 2022)
The approval of contract renewal that would allow the Bird scooter company to continue to use the public right of way to do business in Bloomington was pulled from the Tuesday meeting agenda for the board of public works (BPW).
The item is also not expected to appear on the agenda for the very next BPW meeting. But it could appear on the board’s Nov. 22 agenda, possibly along with the contract renewals for the two other companies doing business in Bloomington—Lime and VeoRide.
Under the terms of the scooter contracts, companies pay the city $10,000 year for a license, and 15 cents for each ride their customers take.
The reason the contract was pulled off this week’s agenda was given at Tuesday’s meeting during the staff report from public works director Adam Wason. “After some communications from some city councilmembers and others yesterday about the renewals, city staff in coordination with the mayor’s office and legal decided that we were going to pull this from the agenda at this time while we do some further coordination with both the university and the city council,” Wason said.
Wason added, “Part of that is going to be some evaluation of some data and combined conversation with the university and their team that are working on scooter issues.”
The pushback from councilmembers stems from long-brewing frustration over blockage of ADA ramps and sidewalks by parked scooters, and the city’s apparent decision not to impose fines for the infractions.
That’s after the council was assured at a public meeting in July 2019 by the city attorney that fines would be imposed for any parking violation, if they approved the ordinance allowing scooter companies to operate in Bloomington. Continue reading “Scooter contract renewal pulled from Bloomington BPW agenda, pending more review”
In the early morning hours of Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, a drunk driver veered up onto the sidewalk of North Walnut Street near 12th Street causing one person on the sidewalk to jump out of the way, according to a Sunday afternoon news release from Bloomington police.
But the driver struck a 20-year-old man riding an electric scooter, and the man has died from his injuries, according to the news release.
Bloomington police arrested 22-year-old Madelyn N. Howard of Crown Point and have charged her with two crimes: Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated Resulting in Death (a level 4 felony) and Leaving the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury or Death While Intoxicated (level 3 felony).
According to the news release, the car driven by Howard was seen on security footage from a nearby business driving with its passenger-side tires up on the sidewalk on the east side of Walnut Street. According to the news release, the car was driving fast and a person on the sidewalk can be seen jumping out of the way of the car into the grass just before it strikes the victim on the scooter.
According to the news release, the man was found lying along the east edge of Walnut Street just north of the intersection of 12th and Walnut Street. He was taken by ambulance to the IU Health Bloomington Hospital.
Bloomington police officers responded to the call around 1:50 a.m on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, according to the news release. Continue reading “Bloomington police report: Early Sunday morning death when drunk driver hits scooter rider”
Bloomington mayor John Hamilton is greeted by AFSCME workers as he leaves city hall on Aug. 30, 2022. Left in the frame is AFSCME Local 2487 president Bradley Rushton.
AFSCME Local 2487 president Bradley Rushton addresses the city council during 2023 budget week.
From left: Bloomington police chief Mike Diekhoff; and Paul Post, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Don Owens Memorial Lodge 88.
Bloomington city councilmember Jim Sims.
Bloomington city councilmember Sue Sgambelluri.
The hour was close to 11:30 p.m. on Thursday when Bloomington’s city council wrapped its fourth night of departmental budget presentations in a row, each starting at 6 p.m.
Over the four days, the council racked up a total of 17 hours and 40 minutes worth of meeting time.
That intense burst of activity will be followed by the submission of written followup questions by city councilmembers to the administration. Based on past practice, answers to those questions will eventually be released, sometime before the 2023 budget ordinances get a first reading in front of the city council.
The first readings are currently set for a little more than three weeks from now, on Sept. 28. The city’s 2023 budget is currently set for adoption by the council on Oct. 12. Continue reading “Bloomington 2023 budget notebook: Compensation, scooters, fire stations, trash fees, coins for parking”
Veoride scooter parked on Nov. 30, 2021.
Lime scooter parked on Dec. 11, 2021.
This Tyranno-cyclist Rex on the 7th Street underpass is an endangered species after approval of a contract to refurbish the 7th Street underpass mural.
7th Street underpass.
Looking east across the site of the Curry Urban Properties construction site on Pete Ellis Drive.
Bloomington’s short-handed board of public works still worked its way through a Tuesday agenda that included: renewal of the $10,000 annual licenses for two scooter companies; an agreement with an artist to refurbish the 7th Street underpass mural; two public improvement bond estimates; and a noise permit for a Rally for Life event.
The three-member board has one open seat, due to the resignation of Dana Henke, which was effective at the end of the year. For Tuesday’s meeting, that still left a quorum in the form of Kyla Cox Deckard and Beth Hollingsworth. Acting as president for Tuesday’s meeting was the board’s secretary, Kyla Cox Deckard.
Public works director Adam Wason indicated at Tuesday’s meeting that it is hoped a replacement for Henke would be named in time for the board’s next meeting on Jan. 19. Continue reading “Public works notebook: Scooter contracts, underpass mural repair, sidewalk fines”
A scooter blocking the sidewalk on 6th Street on the evening of Nov. 20, 2021.
Screenshot of uReport filed by The B Square about an improperly parked scooter.
When Bloomington’s city council enacted an ordinance regulating shared electric scooters, the local law came with a provision about sidewalk parking. Users could park their scooters on sidewalks, but with more than a dozen restrictions.
Among the restrictions are some obvious requirements—like the need to leave a clear straight path of some minimal width (at least four and a half feet), and a prohibition against blocking accessibility ramps.
At the July 31, 2019 city council meeting, when the scooter ordinance was enacted, city attorney Mike Rouker told the city council: “[The city of Bloomington] will be fining them every single time we see a parking issue.”
Apparent violations of the scooter parking ordinance are noticeable in many places around town where scooters are operated.
But the city of Bloomington has not made any citations or issued any fines related to improper scooter parking, after the ordinance became effective more than two years ago, on Sept. 1, 2019
Continue reading “Electric scooter parking violations: Zero citations, in over 2 years since local Bloomington law was passed”
Measured by scooter rides, life in Bloomington has not yet returned to the pre-pandemic norms.
Numbers available through the city’s B Clear platform show that for August and September of 2021, a total of 106,083 rides were taken on a shared electric scooter, which is 69 percent of the 154,486 rides taken during the same period in 2019. Continue reading “Data notebook: Bloomington’s electric scooter ridership at 70 percent of pre-pandemic levels”
In August and September this year, a total of about 71,800 rides were taken in Bloomington on e-scooters, which are available for short-term rental from three different companies.
That’s only about 46 percent of the ridership seen for the same two months in 2019—an impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though Indiana University students have returned to campus, many of them have vastly reduced local travel requirements, because some of their classes are offered online.
University affiliates make up the majority of ridership for public buses and private e-scooters alike. After e-scooter ridership dipped to nearly nothing over the summer, it has rebounded a little bit this fall, somewhat better than public bus ridership.
Ridership on Bloomington Transit’s fixed route buses in August this year was around just 32 percent of August ridership in 2019.
In Bloomington the competition for riders is a three-way fight between Bird, Lime and a newcomer, Veo. The last to arrive on the scene, Veo can now claim around 32 percent of Bloomington ridership, better than twice as much as Bird’s 12 percent, but still trailing Lime’s 56 percent. Continue reading “Bloomington’s e-scooter ridership down, Lime still leads, but cedes ground to Veo”
Bloomington’s uReport system for resident complaints features this item from mid-July last year: “When will the city start removing this debris?”
It was a mordant reference to the “pile of scooters” blocking the 6th Street sidewalk in front of the public library.
Complaints and comments about scooters have diminished since the Bird and Lime companies deployed them in Bloomington, starting in September 2018. But complaints have not completely disappeared. On Friday morning, @indiana_rachel Tweeted a photo of an 8-strong phalanx of Lime scooters parked in a way that blocks sidewalk passage, saying, “Hard to get past this in a wheelchair.” [Added 9:05 a.m. on Jan. 24, 2020, shortly after initial publication]
The number of complaints and comments in the uReport system is one way to track the activity of the shared-use electric scooters in the city.
Other ways include rides taken and fees paid by scooter companies to Bloomington. Continue reading “What shared scooters in 2019 brought to Bloomington: $107K and fewer complaints”