Electric scooter pilot program starting this weekend in Chicago

Starting this weekend, you're going to be seeing a lot more electric scooters buzzing around Chicago -- and you can ride one yourself.

It is the start of a new pilot program by the city to test electric scooter sharing.

"This is a Bird Electric Scooter. We're launching in Chicago this Saturday,” said Sam Kernan-Schloss.

Chicago Business Affairs Commissioner Rosa Escareno says ten companies will each be allowed to place 250 electric scooters into service, with plenty of rules.

Riders must wear helmets, stay off the sidewalk, can't operate after 10 p.m. and are restricted to a test zone west of Halsted, south of Irving and north of the river.

In other words, no scooter sharing downtown or along the lakefront.

There's also a geo-sensor built into the scooter, so if you go outside the pilot program area it will slow to a stop.

"We believe there are plenty of transportation options there. We want a true test in a community that would be diverse,” Escareno said.

In some cities, electric scooter sharing has caused controversy with scores of scooters left haphazardly on sidewalks and roads after use.

Chicago mandates companies pick them up within two hours of a complaint.

"Bird's goal is really to get people out of their cars, reduce congestion and help the environment,” Kernan-Schloss said.

If successful, the program could expand next year.