Marietta leaders impose ban on e-scooters

01/04/2019 — Atlanta, Georgia — Lime Scooters sit parked on Peachtree Street in Atlanta’s Midtown community, Friday, January 4, 2019. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

01/04/2019 — Atlanta, Georgia — Lime Scooters sit parked on Peachtree Street in Atlanta’s Midtown community, Friday, January 4, 2019. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

The Marietta City Council has taken a preemptive step and banned the use of e-scooters, becoming the most recent jurisdiction in metro Atlanta to address an alternative method of transportation that’s soaring in popularity.

Council members at their Feb. 13 meeting unanimously voted to enact an ordinance prohibiting companies from setting up and offering the use of so-called dockless devices. The ban does not prevent citizens from using their personal scooters to get from point A to point B, however.

The City Council approved its ordinance on the consent agenda, meaning it did not discuss the item before taking a vote. No one spoke in favor or against the proposal at Wednesday’s meeting.

Along with banning companies from offering the service in Marietta, the ordinance also prohibits anyone from using or abandoning a scooter in the public right-of-way or on public property. Devices found within the city will be removed and impounded, and operators would be subject to fines outlined in the city’s ordinances.

Mayor Steve Tumlin, who said the city is a “natural target” for e-scooter companies looking to set up shop within its boundaries, said he didn’t believe e-scooters are compatible with the pedestrian-friendly vibe in areas such as the Marietta Square.

“Marietta has a good ambiance, (and is) a good walking city,” he said. “We had strong hints that they were considering (us), so we decided to lay the parameters down.”

Tumlin added that the city’s square has quite a number of restaurants that utilize outdoor seating on sidewalks and, when you combine that with residents who push children in strollers, use wheelchairs or walk their pets, the addition of scooters would cause more congestion.

Two companies that offer e-scooters in metro Atlanta, Bird and Lime, weighed in on Marietta’s ban. A Bird spokesperson said it hoped the Cobb County seat would have joined its counterparts around the world “who are embracing e-scooters as a transportation option for residents.”

Bird went on to say that it works closely with local communities to reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions that plague cities around the world.

“Bird is good for the environment and the economy,” the company said in a prepared statement. “We are proud that our affordable service helps individuals opt out of the car and onto a more sustainable option, all while providing income opportunities in the communities where we operate."

Nima Daivari, community affairs manager with Lime, added that company also collaborates with cities and their leaders to come up with the best plan that suits residents in the areas they want to serve.

While it said it was “disappointed” in Marietta’s decision, Daivari added Lime hopes the city would follow in the footsteps of Atlanta and other communities that have embraced e-scooters as a safe and economical method of transportation.

“We look forward to collaborating with Marietta's leaders, residents and other key city stakeholders to design a unique micromobility plan for all people,” Daivari added.

Marietta is the latest example of cities cracking down on scooters. In January, the Atlanta City Council enacted new rules that require companies to abide by regulations addressing placement, and mandating them to obtain business licenses to operate the scooters.

Last week, an Atlanta mother of five spoke with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and advised users to be aware of potential malfunctioning parts before they hop on scooters to get around their neighborhoods.