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Atlanta leaders to discuss tighter rules for shareable scooters, bikes

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Bird scooters and Lime bikes are here to stay, but regulations are needed, councilmembers agree

A picture of a woman riding a bird scooter down a city street.
Shareable scooters and bikes can be spotted all over Atlanta.
Atlanta City Council

Shareable bikes and electric scooters are everywhere in Atlanta, and, for the most part, it seems people think that’s a good thing.

Whirring down the Beltline to work on a Bird means you’re not guzzling gas on the highway or surface streets.

Pedaling up to Piedmont Park on a LimeBike means you’re choosing exercise over convenience.

Hopping on the interstate with a shareable electric scooter means ... wait, you definitely can’t do that.

As these alternative modes of transportation become ubiquitous—even mainstream—it’s becoming clearer that laws are needed to regulate behavior.

Accordingly, today at 3 p.m. the Atlanta City Council’s Public Safety and Legal Administration Committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing to discuss legislation that would impose regulations on the city’s favorite shareable dockless vehicles.

The ordinance draft, devised at a council meeting in May, seeks to crack down on misuse of the popular scooters and bicycles by dictating where people can ride and park the vehicles.

Bird scooters, for instance, are currently prohibited from being ridden on the Beltline’s Eastside Trail and at Piedmont Park, as is evidenced by the red no-fly zones on the service’s phone app.

Nevertheless, the electric scooters can be seen frequently zipping along the multi-use path and through the park.

a screengrab from the app, showing Piedmont Park is off limits.
Birds can still be found all around the Beltline, despite the current ban.
Sean Keenan, via Bird app

The council’s proposal would preclude riders from taking scooters on sidewalks—a common sight—although it would allow them to use the Beltline and cruise within city parks.

The legislation could also restrict the amount of shareable vehicles that can be in an operating company’s fleet—and implement fees for companies that commit infractions.

Reads the proposed legislation: “The annual Dockless Permit fee shall be $12,000 annually for 500 devices and an additional $50 per Shareable Dockless Mobility Device in the Operator’s fleet in excess of 500 devices.”

If the ordinance is adopted as-is, it will also make it illegal to park vehicles on vegetation or sidewalks, unless at least five feet of space is left for pedestrians.

After today, the legislation is expected to go before the council’s Transportation Committee, and the full council could vote on the proposal as soon as November 19.