Skepticism abounds around the subject of Atlanta officials’ efforts to regulate the city’s hottest new mobility option, e-scooters.
Is the city imposing harsh enough restrictions to prevent more e-scooter-related injuries and fatalities? Are there feasible ways to reimagine enough intown streets to better accommodate the dockless vehicles? Might an all-out (or temporary) ban be needed before officials can figure out how to wrangle problems?
These are the questions planning professionals, residents, and observers are asking.
And Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore has brought to light a new concern: Are the companies renting out these devices playing by the rules? The ones local leaders put into effect in January?
Almost 12,000 dockless vehicles—e-scooters and bikes—are permitted within city limits, as of earlier this month, and each operating company is allowed to offer no more than 2,000 devices, per the new laws.
But during an interview with Power 96.1 on Sunday, Moore told hosts she thinks there are more operational e-scooters than are authorized.
“Right now, we give [companies] a permit, and I don’t think they’re following [the regulations],” she said. “I think they have more scooters on the streets than we have authorized or permitted.”
Moore told Curbed Atlanta today that her suspicions are solely based on anecdotal evidence.
“I don’t have any data to support my comment besides my observation,” she said, noting that she’s seen some areas where it seems like there are more e-scooters than people.
Moore also said she wonders how companies keep track of how many vehicles might be in their fleet at one time, considering how often people damage or destroy the devices.
“Maybe some are operational, but some have turned into trash,” she said.
A City of Atlanta spokesperson told Curbed last month that officials from the Office of Mobility Planning keep a watchful eye on how many permits are handed out and whether companies are keeping their fleets within the size constraints.
If one of the operating companies is found to be in violation of the city’s code, they could be hit with fines or even have permits revoked, the spokesperson added.
Asked if she sees another city as a model for smart e-scooter regulations, Moore told the Power 96.1 hosts, “I think that the ones that probably—and I know that scooter-lovers would hate to hear this—have done it right is those that have said they’re not going to do it. It makes it a lot simpler.”
Moore has previously suggested temporarily banning e-scooters to give Atlanta lawmakers the breathing room needed to figure out how to get a handle on the transportation phenomenon.
The council president also acknowledged that the scooters themselves are not the root of the problem.
“It’s not the scooter; it’s the riders that are jumping them anywhere on the sidewalks,” she told the radio station. “They’re not being very courteous, and they still want us to allow that to happen.”
Moore also said elected officials are now kicking their push for transportation infrastructure improvements into high gear.
“We have just really gotten into getting the bike lanes and starting to be more aggressive about putting them down,” she said. “The problem is, with the infrastructure we have, you have to remove a car lane, [which could] cause more gridlock. So everybody, I guess, just needs to get on a scooter.”
This story was updated on July 22, 2019 at 12:02 p.m. to include comments from Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore.