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A month after passing, are Atlanta’s new scooter regulations working?

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City campaign urges dockless patrons to “Leave 5 feet. Keep it neat.”

A graphic that illustrates Atlanta’s new scooter regulations.
A graphic compiled by Midtown Alliance that simplifies new rules. Red: no. Yellow: park. Green: go.
Midtown Alliance

Nine months after the debut of rentable e-scooters, most Atlantans have probably seen instances of patrons behaving badly.

These include: scooters abandoned in inconvenient places, such as sidewalks and yards—or hubs of tossed-aside scooters (nests?); preteens whirring down the Beltline; the guy who can’t help but scoot and text; and tipsy tourists whooping on scooters along downtown sidewalks.

Atlanta lawmakers took steps in early January to curb misbehavior when it comes to dockless, shareable scooters and bikes. Campaigns have been launched to raise awareness of new rules. Fines were threatened.

A month later, is it making a difference? What are you seeing out there, Atlanta?

The city-issued breakdown of the new ordinance.
City of Atlanta

With the advent of Lyft’s e-scooters and Uber’s extremely red electric bicycles, the reach of sharable vehicles seems to be spreading farther from the core Midtown, downtown, and Beltline hotspots where the rides were more typically found last year. (Hello, Oakhurst). Helmets are hardly the norm. People doubling up on a single scooter seems to be less of a thing now. But that’s all anecdotal.

Both Midtown Alliance and Atlanta’s Department of City Planning officials could be commended for rolling out digestible, graphic-heavy explainers that cover the legislation city councilmembers voted to adopt January 7.

Some advice borders on common sense—“Yield to pedestrians”—while other warnings could save somebody’s life: “The scooters themselves [and regulated speed limits] are limited to 15 mph ... But if you catch a stiff breeze while going downhill, you may find yourself traveling at an unsafe speed,” as Midtown Alliance advises.

The first rentable e-scooters, Birds, touched down in Atlanta in May and have since become a saving grace for commuters seeking last-mile connectivity—but a plague for some pedestrians (and business owners), both able-bodied and not.

The new laws prohibit scooter and bike users from whirring down sidewalks beside streets. Should patrons fail to park vehicles outside of public rights of way, operators could be liable to pay a $1,000 fine per day.

An example of not keeping it neat, as seen a few weeks ago on an Atlanta street.
Submitted via Kristen Rogers

The ordinance also requires operators to pay $12,000 for permits for up to 500 vehicles. (Each e-scooter after the first 500 will cost companies $50.)

Among many pointers, Midtown Alliance urges dockless patrons to consider taking quieter routes such as Cypress Street, when the safest option, bike lanes, isn’t available.

But riders shouldn’t be bashful about “taking the [street] lane” when alternates don’t exist, the advisory states.