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City to temporarily drop curfew for electric scooters in downtown Phoenix

Electric scooters will soon be available to rent 24 hours a day in downtown Phoenix as part of a test.

Right now, electric scooters and bikes can be used from 5 a.m. to midnight. Phoenix chose a midnight curfew in hopes of preventing intoxicated riders. But the two vendors, Lime and Spin, want 24/7 operations, which will be tested through the pilot program. 

Deputy City Manager Alan Stephenson recently told council members that staff will collect data during the testing period and come up with recommendations.

“Is that something that should be in expanded areas? Does it only makes sense in downtown because of the bars and activities and things we have clustered in an area?” he said. 

According to a city report, both vendors’ apps use advanced technology to identify intoxication before unlocking a vehicle.

"The sobriety tests require potential users to complete puzzles within the smartphone application that test their coordination and reflex time," the report says.

Denver and Oklahoma City use the technology and operate without curfews. City staff are expected to work with vendors to activate the sobriety tests before expanded hours begin. Staff will also are work with the Police Department’s vehicle homicide unit to monitor reports involving scooters between midnight and 5 a.m. Ridership rates and trends will also be evaluated.

The 24/7 pilot program is expected to launch this spring and staff will report back to the council in September. 

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As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.