City of Charlotte eyeing new E-scooter regulations

Published: Jan. 7, 2019 at 11:48 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The electric scooters in Charlotte have continued to grow in popularity and now the city is looking at new regulations in order to keep riders safe.

The council is debating whether to implement a number of regulations including capping the speed of e-scooters, limiting when they can been on sidewalks and streets and requiring them to be shut down earlier in the night.

The council could vote on the regulations as early as next Monday.

“I think limiting the speed of the scooters is a double edge sword. It may prevent some of the dangerous activities with someone on a scooter. However, it increases the disparity between the speed of the scooters and the cars they are interacting with on the road,” said Councilman Larken Egleston.

Another big change the city is considering is not allowing scooters to ride on streets where the posted speed limit is above 35 mph. Riders would have to stay on sidewalks.

“On a 40 mph road, if we are saying a scooter can’t be there if there is no sidewalk, then we are really limiting who can ride them, where they can ride them and how they can use them," said Egleston

However, another regulation would carve out a portion of Uptown where riders could not ride on sidewalks because of the heavy pedestrian traffic in that area. The area where scooters wouldn’t be allowed on the sidewalk would include the area between Stonewall, Seventh, College and Church streets.

Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield voiced concern as to why it would be limited to just portions of Uptown and not other areas where sidewalks are small and pedestrian traffic is high. She called the presentation “heavily pro-scooter” and wants more information about why other major cities have banned scooters.

Other regulations would require the companies to place 20% of their scooters each morning in low income areas and also have the scooters shut down at a certain point at night.

"It is an equity issue. What we don’t want to do is kill a potential tool before we get to make it right,” said Councilman Braxton Winston. “What we also do not want to do is make perfection the enemy of good.”

Currently, scooter companies in Charlotte can have 400 scooters on the street, however, council is also looking at changing that. The new regulation would allow companies to add 50 scooters if they could prove that each of the current scooters were used 3 times a day for a month. The company could add 50 scooters a month as long as they met that requirement. However, the companies would be required to lower the amount of scooters on the streets if the current fleet was averaging less than 2 trips a day.

Meanwhile, scooter usage has dwarfed electric bike usage. In November of 2018, scooters were used for 83,415 trips. August was the highest month of ridership with about 140,000 rides in Charlotte.

Other cities in North Carolina have implemented a fee that the companies must pay per scooter. For example, Raleigh requires companies to pay $300 per unit. Charlotte, however, is one of the few cities that does not require a fee for the companies.

City Council could vote on these regulations at next Monday’s council meeting.

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