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Atlanta councilmembers suggest cracking down on sharable, dockless vehicles

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Local lawmakers are officially sick—already—of seeing scooters and bikes littered about

Bird patrons enjoy a leisurely, motorized scoot on the Beltline’s Westside Trail recently.
Bird patrons enjoy a leisurely, motorized scoot on the Beltline’s Westside Trail recently.
Curbed Atlanta

Atlantans are boldly cruising down the Beltline on electric scooters. Cyclists are leaving rented rides littered about city sidewalks. There’s even been a recent, rented moped sighting on the Freedom Park Trail.

Soon, however, Atlanta’s suddenly ubiquitous, sharable, dockless vehicles—which seem to be running (or rolling) rampant—could earn their own section in the city’s law books.

Thanks to an ordinance proposal backed by Atlanta Councilmembers Michael Bond, Jennifer Ide, Dustin Hillis, Matt Westmoreland, and Andre Dickens, the city is one step closer to regulating the bike- and scooter- and moped-sharing services that seem to be sprouting weekly in Atlanta.

Since July 2014, Atlanta has had laws regulating bike share programs, although the earliest versions of this vehicle-sharing fad required rented bikes to be stashed at certain branded bike racks.

That part of the city code “does not consider the dockless model or address the operation of other shareable mobility devices,” according to the legislation.

Regulating these new operations, the proposed legislation says, would help keep the public right of way “obstruction free,” meaning—ideally—a pile of Bird scooters wouldn’t block pedestrian walkways quite so often.

If ratified, the legislation would also require the companies running vehicle-sharing services to pay a to-be-determined permit fee to the city’s Office of Mobility Planning, which would yield them a year-long license to operate in Atlanta.

Also: “All operators shall maintain liability insurance with the City of Atlanta as the certificate holder with a minimum of a $3,000,000 aggregate.”

Before whipping up the legislative plans, city officials studied the laws crafted by Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, and other cities that have, like Atlanta, been inundated with alternative transportation startups.

There’s also a clause in the councilmembers’ proposal that could help scatter—rather than cluster—the shareable vehicles, which have thus far been mostly crowding in more affluent Atlanta areas.

“No more than 10 shareable dockless mobility devices may be parked per block citywide, among all operators, and no more than 200 shareable dockless mobility devices may be parked per square mile citywide, among all operators,” per the legislation.

The demand for vehicle-share regulations is already backed by commissioners from Atlanta’s public works, planning, and parks departments, according to the ordinance draft.

At 10 a.m. on July 13 at City Hall, the Atlanta City Council’s public safety and transportation committees will host a work session to discuss the ordinance proposal.