Public threat? Or valuable innovation?
The cities are still looking for a common basis for e-scooters, the rentable individual vehicles that are raving about in many urban areas today. On the one hand, the dockless devices are a great transportation alternative. On the other hand, they have often proven to be a security risk. And in the interest of public security, some cities are taking a harder stance on scooters.
From evening bans to total bans
One of the youngest cities is Atlanta, which has imposed a temporary ban on evening operations after the death of four drivers this year. "Unfortunately, we saw a pattern in the recent and tragic scooter deaths – they all happened after sunset," Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in a statement. All companies operating the scooters in Atlanta were asked to deactivate the devices after 9 p.m. until 4 a.m.
Evening bans were also imposed in Chicago, with curfews starting at 10 p.m. until 5 p.m. and Jersey City, which prohibits operations from 11 p.m. to 18 clock
Some cities have geographical limits for the use of the scooters. For example, Virginia Beach prohibits use on the city's oceanfront or on a sidewalk. Chicago doesn't let them operate in downtown Loop and other busy areas.
Meanwhile, other cities are adopting an even tougher stance. Last month, Chattanooga, Tennessee, banned e-scooters for six months. Summit County, Utah (Park City) and Breckenridge, Colorado have recently banned them. Nashville's mayor David Briley called for a ban after the city's first scooter death, but the Metro Council there overruled Briley and instead called for a reduction in the scooter fleet.
Violations and promises
The largest e-scooter injury and death analysis performed by the United States Disease Control and Prevention Center looked at medical records in Austin, Texas from September to November last year. The study identified 271 injuries, 45 percent of which were head injuries and 39 percent were fractures. "A high proportion of injuries related to e-scooters were associated with potentially avoidable risk factors," concluded the report, "such as poor helmet use or interaction with motor vehicles."
While e-scooters have many enemies (including vigilantes who throw them into the nearest body of water), they also have many supporters. In addition to the people who only like to drive the devices, there are also traffic planners who see them as an important role of "micromobility": a fast and inexpensive way to get to and from existing public transport networks.
You could make our cities greener. But when city officials think about the desired result, they have to deal with an inevitable question: at what price?