OGDEN — A three-month test phase for electric scooters in downtown Ogden begins Friday.

Representatives from Ogden City, the Utah Transit Authority, Ogden-Weber Chamber of Commerce, Weber State University and the Lime electric scooter company held a press conference at the Ogden Amphitheater Thursday, announcing the launch of the program.

Starting Friday morning, about 300 Lime scooters will available for public use. The scooters will be clustered in groups of three or four and placed at strategic areas throughout downtown. Anyone can use the scooters for an initial fee of $1 and then 15 cents per minute.

Speakers at the press conference expressed excitement for the program’s potential to connect users to transit and to help reduce issues commonly associated with an overabundance of motor vehicles: poor air quality, traffic congestion, limited parking and more.

“We hope (the scooters) will encourage more active transportation,” said Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell. “Getting around in ways that don’t require a car.”

Capable of reaching speeds of up to 15 mph, users access the Lime app to locate the nearest scooters and the company pays people to retrieve and charge them.

UTA board member Beth Holbrook said the scooters will help alleviate the “first mile/last mile” public transportation issue in Ogden. The first-mile/last-mile theory says that gaps of one mile or more between transit stops and destinations or starting points discourages potential transit riders. But when options like scooters or bicycles are readily available to fill those gaps, the more likely people are to use transit.

Holbrook said the Lime scooters, which have also been deployed in Salt Lake City, are a great way for people to “get that full (transit) experience.”

The scooter program was discussed earlier this week during an Ogden City Council work session. Council Vice Chair Angela Choberka said response on the program from her constituents has been at extreme ends of a spectrum, with people either “super excited” or “super worried” about it.

Caldwell said the city has discussed potential liabilities and will monitor the program carefully during the three-month trial period. The mayor said the city would field complaints and address issues as they arise and acknowledged that there could be “some issues we don’t foresee.”

“They’re going to be on streets and sidewalks and probably in places we don’t to see them occasionally,” Caldwell said.

Ogden Chief Administrative Officer Mark Johnson said a series of safety videos have been made to demonstrate proper usage of the scooters.

The scooters can’t be ridden on sidewalks, but must be parked there, in the area immediately next to the curb, not blocking vehicle parking spaces, bus stops, etc. When parking, riders must also leave five to six feet on the sidewalk to make room for pedestrians.

Scooter placement will be solidified after Lime monitors usage data for the first few months of the program.

If Ogden City and Lime are satisfied with the program after the three-month pilot phase, the program will continue indefinitely.

You can reach reporter Mitch Shaw at mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23.

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