The type of electric scooters and bicycles already buzzing around the streets of downtown Dallas, Austin and San Antonio will arrive in June in Waco, city leaders said Tuesday.
The Waco City Council is expected to approve a one-year contract with Gotcha Bikes LLC later this month to place 50 electric-assist bikes and 50 electric scooters for rent in the city. The company and city will have the option to renew the deal for another year.
Chelsea Phlegar, a senior planner with the Waco Metropolitan Planning Organization, presented the plan at a city council meeting Tuesday, after more than a year of discussions about bikes and scooters that have been embraced by larger cities around the country.
Ten to 12 parking areas, which will include city bike racks, Gotcha hubs and virtual hubs, will be placed within a 2-square-mile area throughout downtown, along the Brazos River and in a sliver of East Waco.
The area with rental hubs could be expanded across Interstate 35 toward Baylor University and farther into East Waco, Councilman John Kinnaird said.
“I think that this is going to be really great for our citizens and our visitors,” Councilman Dillon Meek said. “As our downtown becomes denser, diverse mobility is important.”
Users must download the Gotcha Bikes smartphone app and pay a fee to rent the bikes or scooters. The company, which will collect those fees, operates in more than 50 cities and universities.
The devices may be used anywhere in city limits but may only be parked in the downtown zone where the hubs will be placed. Violators of the policy will be notified.
The scooters have a top speed of 15 mph, which could be limited in zones may be designated for slower speeds. Some streets could also be designated as “no-ride zones.”
The company would hire a full-time manager of the Waco program, Phlegar said. Several others would work on a part-time basis to redistribute the vehicles among the rental hubs each day.
Bikes could be rented at all times, but scooter rentals would be restricted to between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. The scooters would be picked up at about 9 p.m. each night to be recharged.
Gotcha Bikes limits rentals to people over the age of 18 and requires riders to wear helmets. The city also could revise ordinances to prohibit riding the scooters and bikes on sidewalks.
“I’m very much looking forward to partnering with (Gotcha) and having their mobility devices throughout our town and being used by a variety of individuals, both local and our visitors, so I think it’ll be great,” Kinnaird said.