Sightseeing. A periodic tour of CVI news, views and events.

Atlanta City Council Adopts Electronic Scooter Ordinance

Photograph of scooters propped up on a telephone pole

Submitted by Adam Hinchliffe

On Monday, January 7, Atlanta took the first step in a likely multistep process to issue regulations on the popular e-scooter industry in the city. Council adopted Ordinance 18-0-1322 13-1, and the measure now sits on Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ desk for consideration. This legislation mainly impacts scooter companies operating in the city with permitting fees and possible fines for non-compliance, but does direct riders on where to ride and how to park the scooters, but with no fines to the user for violation of the ordinance. Hopefully, the new regulations directed at riders will make sidewalks safer for all pedestrians.

Highlights of the legislation include:

  • An annual operating permit of $12,000 for each scooter company operating a maximum of 500 scooters. After 500 units, each additional scooter will cost $50. Companies must also carry liability insurance.
  • Scooters must be parked upright allowing at least five feet of clearance on sidewalks and cannot block building entrances, driveways, transit stops, ADA curb ramps, or be placed in vegetation.
  • A maximum speed limit of 15 mph (24.14 km/h) and no riding of scooters on sidewalks is required.
  • Operators must educate riders on safety measures and local laws such as the wearing of helmets and riding in the street rather than on the sidewalk.
  • Company violators face daily fines of $1,000 and possible revocation of their operating permit in addition to having scooters impounded by the Department of Public Works at their own expense.
  • Each company must take measures to ensure equal scooter distribution around Atlanta’s neighborhoods and business districts and offer a form of payment and access that does not require a credit card or smart phone for access.

As reported recently in Sightseeing, this ordinance could offer some assurance to Atlanta pedestrians with vision loss, as the scooters pose an extra hazard because of their lack of noise and close proximity to people using white canes who may not always walk in a straight line requiring sudden stops or course corrections from scooter operators on sidewalks in addition to tripping hazards posed by fallen scooters, sometimes piles of them, blocking entrances, curbs, or even the entire sidewalk path itself. With no penalties assigned to scooter riders, time will tell if possible fines alone assessed to scooter companies will be enough to curb riding on sidewalks, especially in light of Atlanta’s heavy auto traffic and limited bike lane network which poses serious dangers to scooter riders themselves.

If the Mayor signs the legislation, it will go into effect immediately. The ordinance requires Atlanta’s Office of Planning to monitor usage data and report back to the City Council before next January to see if any alterations should be made to the ordinance.