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'Walk Your Wheels' — Safety Campaign Aims To Get Electric Scooter Riders Off Sidewalks, In Helmets

Photo of people getting helmets.
Claire Jones / KUER
The electric scooter company, Bird, is handing out free helmets to encourage riders to protect their heads when using their dockless scooters in Salt Lake.

It’s hard to miss electric scooters zipping on the streets and abandoned on the sidewalks around Salt Lake City. Their popularity is part of the problem that has sparked a new safety campaign from the city and the two scooter companies, Bird and Lime, which were reintroduced to Salt Lake in July after city officials hit the brakes due to a bumpy start.  

On Wednesday morning, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski kneeled over a stencil template on the sidewalk, spray paint can in hand, ready to fill in the words, “this is the place for walking.” Behind her, about 20 people wait in line for free helmets from the electric scooter company Bird.

Photo of Biskupski spray painting sidewalk.
Credit Claire Jones / KUER
Salt Lake City, Bird and Lime have teamed up to encourage scooter riders to follow the rules - and be safer.

One of the people in line, Alex Keith, noticed the line outside the Bird tent on her walk to work this morning. She said she’s ridden the scooters twice in the last month and prefers to stick to the sidewalk. She feels that drivers get frustrated when they have to share the road with scooters. But riding on the sidewalk can have its own consequences.

“One [person] yelled at me,” said the 26-year-old, laughing a little. “‘You know you’re supposed to ride those on the street, right?’”

Riders should know where they can and can’t use the scooters - the Bird app requires users to agree to the rules for riding in the city, which includes using bike lanes, and wearing a helmet.

The sidewalk messages and helmets are part of a safety campaign to further encourage scooter users to comply with those rules.

As part of the larger campaign, Bird and Lime are also donating one dollar per scooter per day to fund the new bike lanes, designated parking areas, and painted sidewalk messages. The companies are handing out more free helmets for users near downtown this weekend.

According to data from cities where Bird and Lime have implemented similar campaigns, the number of complaints and accidents has gone down. But until new bike lanes are created here in Salt Lake, it’s up to riders to stick to the rules of the sidewalk while they scoot.


Claire used to work as an outdoor education teacher — living in the middle of the woods for six months of the year and then filling in the rest with odd jobs. When she first moved to Utah in 2016 for a winter season, it was the first place she could envision staying for more than 6 months. Podcasts and radio filled in the hours moving in between states. In fact, Claire loved working seasonally and podcasts so much, that she began making her own podcast about seasonal life. She then decided to apply for an internship with RadioWest. When she stepped into the station, it was the second time she could see herself in Utah for more than 6 months. Now Claire works as a production assistant and a weekend host. She’s excited to stay for a while.
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