City Council Delays Vote On Allowing "Docked" Scooters After Raising Several Concerns

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

A planned vote on allowed "docked" scooters to operate in Chattanooga through the city's bicycle for rent program has been delayed.

A vote had been set next Tuesday to allow Shift Transit to add electric scooters to its fleet of standard bicycle and electric bikes.

However, council members decided to first draw up some guidelines for operation of the new array of scooters.

Blythe Bailey, city transportation director, said a six-month pilot program is planned with no more than 30 scooters available.

He said, "It's a very controlled experiment. We can pull these vehicles at any time."

Mr. Bailey said one plus was that the scooters would have to be returned to docking stations just as bicycles do and would not be left lying around the city as has occurred in some places.

He said helmets would not be required since helmets are required for riders up to age 16, but the scooters cannot be rented by anyone under 18.

Mr. Bailey said it was found there is no prohibition on riding the scooters on sidewalks. He said they would be governed to go no higher than 20 mph.

He said he would provide information to the council on crash rates and complaints and the six months would "sunset" so the council could then decide whether to continue it.

Mr. Bailey said Knoxville set the maximum scooter speed at 15 mph. He said they are not allowed on sidewalks or greenways there.

He stated, "I'm not going to deploy these if the council does not support the program."

Councilman Ken Smith, who has been a foe of the scooters in the past, asked that each of the scooters be marked with an identifiable number and he also called for starting out with a limited number of scooters.

Councilman Anthony Byrd said, "It bothers me that with the overwhelming issues we have with these that we are back here again with these scooters."

He said it would be another issue for police officers to contend with. He said, "It seems like we're asking for more problems."

Councilwoman Carol Berz said, "I'm really torn about this. I don't like these things. They're dangerous. I don't care a lick if they are docked or dock-less."

She added, "The problem is not whether they run over pedestrians (on sidewalks), it's the bashed-in brains problem (on the streets)."

Councilman Erskine Oglesby said an ordinance is needed that applies to all scooters. He said, "I see a scooter phenomenon coming to our city pretty soon." Councilman Jerry Mitchell, who said he wants to give the scooters a try, said that phenomenon "is already here." 

Councilman Darrin Ledford called the experiment "very risky," though he liked the idea of them being docked.

He said, "If a scooter going 20 mph hits a pedestrian, we've got a problem."

City Attorney Phil Noblett said, "The plaintiff's lawyer would like that."

 

 

 


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