Ala. cities explore allowing electric scooters

Updated: Jul. 8, 2019 at 7:12 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Electric scooters are a growing trend across the country and Alabama cities are exploring the possibility of letting people rent them.

Companies have scooters available for rent through an app in cities including Atlanta, Denver and Washington D.C. There were 84 million trips using electric light vehicles like bikes and scooters in 2018, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

Alabama lawmakers passed legislation allowing cities to regulate the scooters, therefore paving the way for cities to have them.

Montgomery, Huntsville and Birmingham leaders said they are researching the safest ways to implement electric scooters.

City of Montgomery director of Public Information and External Affairs Michael Briddell said these scooters are the wave of the future.

“A lot of people who visit us from other places would like to see scooters when they come here for tourism," Briddell said.

Briddell said the city could see scooters before Halloween. However, he said they are “diligently” researching to make sure they can implement them safely.

“We don’t want anyone injured. We don’t want pedestrians to get hurt by scooters riders. We don’t want motorist to run into scooters," he said.

There are safety concerns for many officials looking into the possibility. Consumer Reports said there were eight deaths in connection to e-scooters since the fall of 2017.

Birmingham Transportation Department Director James Fowler said the city is exploring ways for scooters to be “safely incorporated”.

“The City of Birmingham supports the development of a multi-modal transportation system, which should include safe access for walking, public transportation, cycling and driving. Now that the state has granted authority to municipalities to legalize scooters locally, the City of Birmingham is exploring ways that scooters can safely be incorporated into the city’s transportation system. Some city officials and civic partners have been researching programs and policies in other cities around the country to determine how scooters can best work in Birmingham. This research will take some time.”

The City of Huntsville said the city is also in the early stages of researching the scooters.

“Now that the legislature has paved the way for the use of scooters, the City of Huntsville is taking a close look at what that legislation means for our community. Huntsville remains in the early stages of researching the use of scooters to see what has worked in other cities, what didn’t work, growing pains, and what we can learn from their mistakes. While the City is not ready to introduce a program just yet, we are interested in the concept and will continue our thoughtful approach in looking at best practices across the nation.”

Currently, students at Troy University can rent electric scooters. The campus has a partnership with the company SPIN.

The new Alabama law does not go into effect until Sept. 1.

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