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Survey says: E-scooter riders, and not, think safer infrastructure is most crucial issue

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More than 2,000 people weighed in on the dockless mobility option, and the results could guide changes

A photo of a man on an e-scooter crossing a street in Atlanta.
The public at large wants more infrastructure to make e-scooters safer, such as (unblocked) bike lanes, a city study has found.

A little more than a year after the City of Atlanta enacted its first dockless vehicle regulations, officials are set to take another stab at it.

At the outset of 2019, the Atlanta City Council passed legislation that barred e-scooter users from riding and parking in public rights-of-way and established a permitting system for would-be device operators.

Months later, though, it was clear those regulations weren’t enough, as the e-scooter industry in Atlanta was still akin to the Wild West of urban transportation.

Now, the city council is poised to create new legislation that could determine the future of the city’s micromobility industry at large.

The new changes will likely reflect the input Atlantans gave to city officials in a recent survey of more than 2,000 people.

Interestingly, about a third of respondents said they’d never tried riding an e-scooter and had no interest in doing so, but the consensus was that the travel option should stay, so long as regulations improve.

The most popular change requested was that of transportation infrastructure: It appears everybody thinks the city should “build more safe places to ride,” per the survey results.

The data also indicates that some folks—especially those who have not used e-scooters—want to see the amount of devices and operating companies decrease.

The City of Atlanta’s chief bicycle officer Cary Bearn told CBS46 this week that, once the impending e-scooter reform takes effect, only two or three companies will be allowed to operate in town.

No one will be grandfathered in, she said.

The way the initial permitting laws were written, each company was allowed to license up to 2,000 vehicles.

City officials are now considering reducing that number and allowing companies to expand their fleets “if they meet performance and compliance goals,” per the survey.

They’re also seeking better ways to monitor how e-scooters are maintained and parked, which could mean creating better designated parking and no-parking zones.

To review, after a spate of e-scooter-related injuries and fatalities, city officials issued more rules than those imposed in early 2019. To note a few:

  • Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued a moratorium in July on e-scooter permitting until officials could get a handle on the budding mobility option. (At the time, some 12,000 devices were permitted, although a handful of operators have since departed Atlanta, most citing strict regulations.)
  • Police now threaten to ticket e-scooter users who ride on sidewalks.
  • Officials implemented lower speed limits for riders in certain areas, such as the Beltline during high-traffic times.
  • A nighttime e-scooter ban went into effect after 9 p.m.

According to the city’s calculations, e-scooters have traveled more than 4.5 million miles in Atlanta in just the past year.

“The majority of e-scooter trips replaced either a walk trip or a car trip (which includes personal cars and ride-hailing such as Lyft or Uber),” the survey says.