Bird scooters

The Atlanta City Council approved new mandates at its Jan. 7 meeting to regulate the proliferation of electric scooters on city streets.

Under new rules approved by the council, scooters must be parked upright on sidewalks and allow pedestrians five feet of space. Companies that violate the policy could be fined $1,000 per day, according to a report in the AJC. Residents have complained about scooters blocking sidewalks, falling into streets and being stacked up in piles.

But the biggest impact to users will be the ban on riding the scooters on sidewalks. According to the new rules, scooters can now only be operated in the street. There was  no move to ban the scooters from the Atlanta BeltLine, where they are technically not allowed in the first place. Riders are also prohibited from holding their cell phone or other wireless device while using a scooter and only rider per scooter is allowed.

Riders who do not have a smartphone or credit card must also be given access to renting a scooter using alternative payment measures and offer a discounted-price options for low-income individuals.

The regulations require the scooter companies – which include Bird, Lime, Uber and Lyft – to pay $12,000 per year for an operating permit, which allows for 500 scooters. Each additional scooter deployed by the companies will cost an extra $50.

The companies must also adhere to parking zones and no-parking zones established by the Department of City Planning Office of Zoning and Development; have a plan for educating users on proper parking, operations and other applicable laws; and encourage helmet usage, among other requirements. The city reserves the right to reduce the number of scooters under a company’s permit if their devices are consistently parked improperly.

While most of the dockless scooters have a speed limit, the city set 15 miles per hour as the maximum speed allowed.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.