The e-scooter droves seen around Atlanta last year will likely keep thinning in coming months—and not because the few companies left operating will be voluntarily backing out of town, city officials tell Curbed Atlanta.
On Monday, the Atlanta City Council passed legislation that updates the permitting system meant to regulate dockless vehicle providers.
The new regulations, among other changes, require operators to outfit their vehicles with lights and decals that let riders know scooting on sidewalks is (still) illegal.
And more legislation is on the way, Councilman Andre Dickens tells Curbed.
Soon, city lawmakers are expected to officially cap the amount of companies providing dockless vehicles at three, he says.
The maximum fleet size of any given operating company has not yet been determined, although Dickens says, “I think we’ll see far fewer on the streets.”
Today, just four dockless device providers operate in Atlanta—Bird, Uber’s Jump, Wheels, and Boaz Bikes.
Atlanta Department of Transportation commissioner Josh Rowan tells Curbed that Bird and Jump, whose licenses expired last month, are running on a month-to-month basis, and Wheels and Boaz Bikes still have valid permits.
“The largest changes to the regulations are the proposed reduction in the number of annual permits issued and the ability to control fleet sizes based on performance, through sub-permits created in the legislation that can be awarded and revoked based on performance—including measures of compliance and ridership,” Rowan says.
Dickens also noted that the controversial ban on nighttime riding, which Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms enacted in response to a spate of e-scooter-related injuries and fatalities, is likely to remain as officials reform the regulations.
“No deaths since then is making people say, ‘See, this is a good policy,’” he says. “The scooter operators obviously want us to lift that ban, but that’s a nonstarter for the administration.”
During the e-scooter frenzy’s peak, the city had licensed some 12,000 devices across nine operating companies.
It’s unclear, though, exactly how many were ever on the streets at one time—Council President Felicia Moore once suggested there might have been more than were licensed—and many companies have dropped out of the Atlanta market.
Departed e-scooter providers include Lyft, Lime, and Bolt.