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‘Pieces of junk’: Dallas electric scooter complaints jump 500% in program revamp

E-scooters are back in Dallas -- and once again blocking sidewalks. This scooter was left on a sidewalk near the intersection of Maple Avenue and McKinney Avenue.
Ed Timms
E-scooters are back in Dallas -- and once again blocking sidewalks. This scooter was left on a sidewalk near the intersection of Maple Avenue and McKinney Avenue.

The city received more than 600 complaints about electric scooters since the program’s relaunch in May — a jump of more than 500% from 2019 that city officials attribute to better complaint tracking.

The official relaunch in May came after promised improvements to the electric rental vehicle program, such as stricter rules for riders and vendors alike. The city put it on pause in 2020 for what transportation officials said were safety hazards.

While some Dallas residents are happy to see the return of scooters, often praised as a fun and eco-friendly transportation alternative, others still aren’t convinced.

That’s reflected in 311 complaints obtained by KERA News.

“First day back and these scooters are blocking the sidewalk,” reads a May 25 complaint. “Please remove these pieces of junk from the sidewalk.”

“Not a good alternative to driving if there are not any within walking distance to use,” reads another complaint.

“I love exploring my city,” reads another. “Please make it easier, not harder.”

These are a few of the 615 service requests the city received about scooters in the first six weeks after the program relaunch between May 24 and July 6. More than 200 complaints are about scooters blocking sidewalk paths, but other complaints include parking violations and scooters placed on private property.

By contrast, the city received only 24 requests the first six weeks after scooters became available in Dallas in July 2018. And during the same May 24-July 6 timeframe in 2019, the city received 102 service requests.

A city spokesperson said the spike in 311 complaints is due to city transportation staff expanding the types of requests people could make. Instead of two categories — “obstruction” or “vendor complaint” — residents can now file requests for broken scooters, scooters in the road, scooters blocking the sidewalk, and at least five other complaint types.

“In addition to that, staff in this go round have been actively promoting 311 as a way to address any parking and writing issues,” said Page Jones Clark, public information officer for the city. “And therefore, we did expect to see an increased number of 311 requests.”

That means the old 311 complaint system may have undercounted complaints by hundreds, making it difficult to understand the scope of the problems at the time.

But Jones Clark said it’s still too early to tell whether the scooter program is overall more successful than it was before. At a May 31 press event, Councilmember Omar Narvaez said there were as many as 30,000 e-scooters available at one point before scooters were banned in 2020.

Dallas resident Sheena Payne said she used to carry a plastic kids' bat when she and her kids walked around the city to push her children to safety if a scooter came whizzing by. She said there were several close calls.

“If I was an adult and I didn't have any kids, then I could play the game of walking down the sidewalk and possibly getting hit and, you know, taking the repercussions for it,” Payne said. “But with a 5-year-old and a 10-year-old, this is our primary way of traveling, is by foot in our daily life. That would be very traumatic for one of them to get hit or to get pushed.”

But Payne said Dallas sidewalks feel safer now than before, whether that’s because of changes to the scooter program or other factors.

Despite the drastic increase in 311 complaints, scooter-related injuries that take riders to the emergency room appear to be down.

Baylor University Medical Center has treated four patients involved in scooter incidents since June 1. So far that’s down from 2018, when the hospital treated 88 scooter injuries from July of that year to January 2019.

A spokesperson for Parkland Memorial Hospital said its staff has treated 10 scooter-related injuries since the 2023 relaunch. However, the hospital doesn’t track whether those involved city rentals.

Like city representatives, Dr. Alan Jones with Baylor said he thinks it’s too early to tell whether this second iteration of the e-scooter program is less problematic.

But his advice to riders remains the same:

“Know the rules and follow them, wear a protective helmet and also learn to use the scooter in a safe and controlled environment before you head out into Dallas traffic,” Jones said.

Got a tip? Email Toluwani Osibamowo at You can follow Toluwani on Twitter @tosibamowo.

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Toluwani Osibamowo is a general assignments reporter for KERA. She previously worked as a news intern for Texas Tech Public Media and copy editor for Texas Tech University’s student newspaper, The Daily Toreador, before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is originally from Plano.