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Poll: A year after Birds landed, are e-scooters a public boon or incurable nuisance?

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The devices reduce car trips and foster last-mile connectivity, but they’re also littering Atlanta

Woman riding shareable scooter down street.
Atlanta’s e-scooter culture shows no sign of slowing.
Atlanta City Council

Considering that Atlanta’s streets are now dotted with roughly 8,000 e-scooters, it’s tough to imagine the city without them.

But it might come as a surprise to know that, as of Friday, the dockless, shareable two-wheelers have been whirring around town for only one year.

In that time, the e-scooter craze has taken Atlanta by storm, and more operating companies are entering the market, even as local leaders grapple with keeping the new transportation option under control.

Rentable e-scooters and bikes are a novel way of creating much-needed last-mile connectivity around Atlanta, and a recent study shows that, in March alone, 30 percent of the more than 380,000(!) miles Atlantans traveled on dockless vehicles replaced car trips.

A picture of two people using lime scooters past a heavily decorated wall. Lime

Of course, that progress hasn’t come without hiccups. It’s time for a brief review.

Less than two months after Bird, the first e-scooter operator to target Atlanta, scattered its vehicles around town, the Atlanta City Council was inundated with complaints of misuse. Councilmembers began crafting legislation to ensure the city didn’t become the Wild West for scooting miscreants.

About a month later, when a picture surfaced on social media of a man riding an e-scooter down the interstate (allegedly), the need to ramp up those legislative efforts became increasingly apparent.

Still, the council agreed the new mode of transportation was welcome—albeit in need of some regulatory training wheels.

A photo of a man riding a Bird scooter on the highway Travis Salters/Emily Hoberman, via Atlanta City Council Twitter

By January 2019, after a few more weeks of users illegally burning down the Beltline and recklessly discarding rides on sidewalks and other public rights of way, the council passed its first laws pertaining to e-scooters.

By that point, Bird, Lime, Uber, and Lyft all had apps online in Atlanta that allowed people to find and rent e-scooters. And all of those companies—plus the operators that would later join in the fun—were now required to license their vehicles, and were liable to rack up fines if renters illegally parked or drove them.

The legislation also enabled e-scooter fans to use the Beltline and city parks, but it barred them from riding on sidewalks.

a picture of e-scooters in a pile Contributed by Kristen Rogers

Still, many users continue to disregard the rules, and some have been hurt in the process.

Little more than a month after regulations were adopted, city officials were considering legislation that would collect data on e-scooter-related injuries from healthcare institutions.

That ordinance was unanimously approved in March.

Soon after, pedestrian advocacy group PEDS dropped its “Clear the Clutter” app, which allows people to tattletale on misbehaving e-scooters. The City of Atlanta’s planning department launched an awareness campaign, Scoot Smart, to encourage people to respect the rules of the road and the new e-scooter regulations.

Sure, there’s more work to be done before e-scooters will be totally acclimated to Atlanta, but it seems the dockless, shareable option is here to say.

Is that a good thing?

Poll

Is Atlanta better off with e-scooters?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    Totally! Fostering last-mile connectivity is well worth a bumpy introduction.
    (362 votes)
  • 35%
    Yes, but further regulations—and enforcement—are crucial.
    (394 votes)
  • 5%
    Let’s see if e-scooters can make it past their terrible twos.
    (65 votes)
  • 24%
    No, the thousands of two-wheelers peppered around the city are an eyesore and a nuisance.
    (279 votes)
  • 2%
    So help me, if I have to share my car lane with these things for one more day...
    (23 votes)
1123 votes total Vote Now