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Midtown leaders weigh in on scooter, bike regulations, suggesting ‘dedicated corrals’

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Keeping scooters off sidewalks is easier said than done, but Midtown Alliance says technological tweaks could help

Recent scenes of scooter abandonment around Atlanta.
Recent scenes of scooter abandonment around Atlanta.
Via John Plantaseed, @johnplantaseed; twitter

“We likely haven’t hit ‘peak scooter’ yet.”

That’s according to Kevin Green, president and CEO of Midtown Alliance, which last week shared with city officials its recommendations for regulating the dockless, shareable vehicles that have lately taken Atlanta by storm.

“We believe that electric scooters provide a much-needed last-mile transit option for Atlantans, but we’ve also witnessed firsthand the safety challenges that come with it,” Green said, according to a Midtown Alliance news release, which announced the organization’s stance on Atlanta City Council legislation that would create rules for shareable vehicle companies.

The proposal, which initially emerged in September, seeks to impose regulations on where people can ride and park dockless scooters and bikes, and how the operating companies can do business within city limits.

If enacted, the ordinance would bar people from taking scooters and motorized bikes on sidewalks, and it would allow them to ride on the Beltline—which is currently prohibited, but widely ignored—and in city parks.

It would also limit the amount of vehicles an operating company can have in its fleet and implement permitting fees.

Midtown Alliance, however, posits that the legislation needs some hammering out before it goes before the full city council, which could happen as soon as next month, after a December 6 work session.

For example, as currently written, the legislation would prohibit people from parking scooters and bikes on sidewalks, unless they leave at least five feet of space for pedestrian travel.

In a letter penned to city leaders, Midtown Alliance officials said that, while helpful but hard to enforce, the five-foot rule wouldn’t be enough to keep areas with high pedestrian traffic safe.

“Ultimately, we would suggest exploring dedicated corrals that include the use of a repurposed on-street parking spot,” the letter said. “We would be glad to partner on a pilot to accomplish this.”

Additionally: “The city should expedite and expand its development of ‘multi-modal’ lanes to provide more safe places for the operation of these new forms of transportation.”

Even with a ban on sidewalk riding, getting people to abide by the rules is a different challenge.

The Atlanta City Council is working on legislation that could regulate shareable scooter use.
Atlanta City Council

“While these riders don’t have a monopoly on obnoxious behavior, it’s a problem and one the companies themselves are uniquely positioned to help address with respect to their customers,” the letter said.

Therefore, per Midtown Alliance, each vehicle should have some form of identification—similar to a license plate—that’s visible from a distance of at least 10 feet.

That way, dockless scooter abusers can be, uh, docked for frequent offenses.

Midtown Alliance also suggested the scooter operators could utilize technology to ensure their vehicles are only functional where they’re allowed to be.

“Companies could be required to geo-fence these zones so their vehicles can’t be operated in them,” according to the letter, which also said the city should have discretion over where these rides are permitted to operate. (The city-established operating zones would be subject to change depending on major events, such as the upcoming Super Bowl.)

Head over here to see the letter detailing Midtown Alliance’s full list of recommendations.