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Smyrna considering banning electric scooters

May 19, 2019

Smyrna’s City Council is considering prohibiting shareable, dockless electric scooters from operating in the city, just a few months after Marietta did the same.

The ban is on the agenda for Smyrna’s City Council meeting on Monday and would apply to rentable electric scooters and bicycles, which are rented through a smartphone app.

Several companies have begun offering these services over the last few years including Bird and Lime, and ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft have launched their own scooter service.

The scooters are dockless, which means riders rent them, ride to their destination and leave the scooters there, paying via a mobile app. Companies that offer the scooters typically pick them up during the night for charging, offering to pay users to gather the scooters, take them home and charge them.

A common criticism of the companies’ business models is that they result in scooters littering public sidewalks.

Councilman Charles Welch said he’s supportive of the proposal for multiple reasons. First, he said he doesn’t like the look of the scooters being discarded on public sidewalks, something he sees in Atlanta.

“It seems like people rent them and leave them everywhere, and it’s unsightly. That’s one reason,” he said.

Second, Welch said, there’s a safety issue. He pointed to the news of a man killed after being struck by a car while riding a scooter in Atlanta early Friday morning.

“Unless you have some experience with them, I just don’t think that you should be taking off and riding on the city streets and sidewalks with them,” Welch said.

Jennifer Bennett, spokesperson for the city, said Smyrna has not been approached by a company looking to set up shop in the city, but other neighboring areas have.

“It’s a step in the direction of making sure something unmanageable doesn’t come in first, so that we are able to manage it as the industry changes and the safety issues can be addressed,” Bennett said.

The city could revisit the ordinance in the future, Bennett said, but there’s no guarantee.

Councilman Tim Gould said the proposed ban gives the city a chance to plan if, in the future, it decides to allow the scooters.

Bennett said another issue with the scooters is where they can operate. They are too fast for sidewalks but too slow for streets, she said.

If approved, the prohibition would go into effect immediately, Bennett said. It would not apply to scooters personally owned, but only those offered by companies like Bird or Lime.

Marietta’s City Council voted to ban the scooters in February.