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City planning chief: ‘Don’t be a knucklehead’ on e-scooters

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Atlanta has launched “Scoot Smart” campaign to spread awareness of safety protocols

A photo of a man riding a Bird scooter on the highway
A prime example of “knucklehead” behavior.
Travis Salters/Emily Hoberman, via Atlanta City Council Twitter

The City of Atlanta is pulling out all the stops to get a handle on e-scooter madness.

But even after the Atlanta City Council passed new laws in January that regulate how people treat the dockless, shareable vehicles, plenty of scooter users are still skirting the rules.

And with some 8,000 scooters now on the street—many of which can still be found littered on sidewalks and sometimes destroyed—determining how much the city is doing to crack down on violations, such as illegal e-scooter parking, can be difficult.

But according to a report the city’s planning department released this week, more than 2,500 complaints of improper parking have prompted e-scooters and shareable bikes to be impounded.

Nonetheless, more needs to be done. So Atlanta has launched a new awareness campaign to educate people about proper e-scooter and rentable bike behavior.

Called “Scoot Smart,” the program can be boiled down to one sentence: “Don’t be a knucklehead,” says Department of Planning Commissioner Tim Keane in a bubbly video about e-scooter etiquette.

In March 2018 alone, according to the planning department’s report, Atlantans used these thousands of dockless vehicles to travel more than 380,000 miles.

Thirty percent of those miles replaced car trips.

And with 10,500 shareable vehicles now permitted by the city—about 8,000 are actually on the roads—the city raked in more than $455,000 in permitting fees.

The next step for city officials, per the report, is to really crack down on impounding illegally parked vehicles, as well as to “invest in safe and connected infrastructure for all modes of transportation.”

The Scoot Smart campaign will include speaking engagements by city planners and the distribution of educational literature, especially via social media.

City officials want people to know they can call 311 to report parking violations, and that Department of Public Works officers are constantly on the prowl for tipped over and misplaced e-scooters.

There’s also pedestrian advocacy group PEDS new “Clear the Clutter” app, which allows Atlantans to tattletale on misbehaving e-scooters