Scooter companies, start your (electric) engines.

The Baltimore City Department of Transportation is now accepting applications for its next dockless vehicle permit. The selected company will pay the city for the right to put electric scooters and e-bikes out for rental on Baltimore streets starting in July.

The rentable vehicles have grown in popularity as an easy way to bop between city attractions and even to commute to work for some. While some see them as a liability for drivers or dangerous obstructions that litter city streets, others have found them vital for filling transportation gaps and connecting riders to bus and train stops.

Baltimore was left with just one dockless vehicle provider after Superpedestrian, owner of the yellow Link scooters and e-bikes that operated in Baltimore in previous years, suddenly shut down its U.S. operations at the end of 2023. Some speculated if the city would temporarily bring in another company to fill the gap for the first half of this year, but it did not.

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Spin, recently purchased by Bird, one of the earliest micromobility companies on the scene, is Baltimore’s sole current dockless vehicle provider. The company that operates roughly 2,000 orange scooters and e-bikes will have its city permit automatically renewed through 2025, transportation officials said.

Permit applications will be scored based on a company’s ability to:

Baltimore’s transportation department requires dockless vehicle operators to place scooters and e-bikes in various “equity zones” at the start of each day in order to ensure communities with low rates of car ownership have access to them. Companies are also required to have reduced fare programs for individuals whose income is below a certain threshold.

Updated permit regulations will be posted on the transportation department’s website on Wednesday and will be available for public comment until June 15. Permit applications will be accepted until May 29.

In 2018, Bird rolled into Baltimore and dropped the first scooters onto Charm City streets without getting permission from city officials. The city’s micromobility program has quickly grown since then — Baltimore now gets a 10 cent tax on each ride, regulates where riders can park vehicles and dings companies for permit or safety violations.

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Correction: This story has been updated to correct the year Bird scooters arrived in Baltimore.

Daniel Zawodny covers transportation for the The Baltimore Banner as a corps member with Report For America. He is a Baltimore area native and graduated with his master's degree in journalism from American University in 2021. He is bilingual in English and Spanish and previously covered immigration issues.

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