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Governor clears the way for electric scooters to return to Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – Electric scooters could make a comeback in Milwaukee.

Gov. Tony Evers visited the city Monday to sign a law clarifying the rules for electric scooters.

It allows scooters on roads in the state, and gives local municipalities the opportunity to create rules in their area.

“Electric scooters can improve access to low cost transportation options, actually reduce single occupancy vehicle use and serve as first and last mile solution to residence and visitors in communities all across the state,” said Gov. Evers.

“It was exactly a year ago where we started seeing bird droppings,” joked Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

He’s talking about the unexpected appearance of Bird scooters on the first day of Summerfest in 2018.

It made some people happy, but sent the city scrambling to deal with the new transportation.

City leaders finally agreed that state law prohibited the scooters on roads, and asked Bird to remove them.

Since then, Mayor Barrett has been looking for a way to get them back.

“It was clear to us that this mode of transportation was something that some individuals wanted to partake in,” said Mayor Barrett.

“We want to be open to different forms of transportation,” he said.

“You’ll find me on one,” said Milwaukee resident Brandon Ball.

He was excited to hear they could be coming back. “Easy way to get around, fun, convenient, cheap, awesome,” he said.

But not everyone shares those feelings.

“Well I think that’s very dangerous,” said Sarah Harris, who is visiting Milwaukee.

She, like many others, are concerned the scooters won’t stay on the roads where they’re intended and they’ll start filling sidewalks.

“Then you’re going to be running people over,” said Harris. “You know there’s no control over them because you can’t get off them very quickly 'cause they’re all motorized.”

And it’s a legitimate concern.

Nashville, a city that Milwaukee used as a model for their electric scooter plan, recently banned the scooters after a man was killed in an accident.

But some believe the benefits outweigh the concerns.

“Walking can be dangerous, driving a car could be dangerous, everything has an aspect of danger to it - you just have to use your head and be careful,” said Ball.

“People want to go out without having to find parking and just enjoy more of the local businesses,” said Milwaukee resident Yam Saiki.

The city council will vote Tuesday whether to allow scooters for a pilot program in the city.  The program would run through the end of the year, and would give the city time to test rules and safety.

If it passes, we could see scooters back in the next couple of weeks.

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