Last year the General Assembly wrestled with statewide rules for the electric scooters that have taken over Atlanta and other cities. The bills failed to pass as the scooter companies and city representatives couldn't agree on a compromise.
This year, a Senate committee has taken a different approach: Let the local governments regulate scooters.
The Senate Transportation Committee Tuesday approved a revised Senate Bill 159 that would define scooters for the purposes of regulations but impose no statewide rules of the road.
"Less is more sometimes," said Sen. Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega, the bill's sponsor.
The bill would define electric scooters as any device that weights less than 100 pounds and is:
*Equipped with handlebars and an electric motor.
*Powered by an electric motor, human power or both.
*Capable of a maximum speed of no more than 20 mph.
The term does not include electric bikes, motorcycles, mopeds or electric personal assistive mobility devices.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Gooch said the 20-mph limit is not a speed limit imposed by the state – it’s just a description of how fast such devices are capable of going. Speed limits and other rules of the road would be set by cities and counties. Some of them – including Atlanta – have already done so.
The bill would also allow local governments to place a moratorium on scooters or even ban them outright. But Gooch and other senators hope they won't. Though critics have cited safety and other concerns, senators believe the devices can be useful in moving people to and from transit stations and getting them out of their cars for other short trips.
“I don’t want to see every city in Georgia ban scooters,” Gooch said. “If there’s a problem, the industry should be able to come to local governments in Georgia and work it out.”
Industry and local government representatives indicated they support the bill.