New scooter law changes could mean more fines, fewer devices

Ride-share scooters sit parked along the sidewalk of Peachtree Street NE in downtown Atlanta. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal Constitution)

New changes to the city’s scooter laws could limit the number of companies and the number of devices they have in Atlanta, city officials said. Companies could also pay varying fine amounts depending on the type of violation.

The proposed changes might be presented to the Atlanta City Council in March, said Kemberli Sargent, an urban planner with the Department of City Planning. The city rolled out the proposed changes Wednesday at an open house, where no residents showed up.

The city is still drafting the new rules for scooters, so some details are still under discussion. The size of fines levied against the scooter rental companies and the number of scooters devices they would be allowed to operate are among those details.

Sargent said the city is considering a “competitive” request for proposals from e-scooter companies that would reduce the number of companies to two or three — an idea some councilmembers have supported in the past. Right now, there are five companies operating in the city.

“We’re hoping that will create a more positive environment for companies and users,” she said.

Among other proposed changes to the city’s e-scooter guidelines:

  • Companies could expand their scooter fleet if they meet performance and compliance regulations, including staffers to monitor scooter violations, and offering education on scooter safety.
  • Companies might be required to offer reduced-price options for some residents, including low-income residents.
  • Fines for violations might be based on the type of violation. Right now, the city charges a $75 impound fee for improperly parked scooters and a $25 charge for each additional day the devices remain impounded. "There's a difference between a scooter that's just knocked over and one that's blocking a curved ramp that might be an ADA violation," Sargent said.

The proposed changes were considered after speaking with scooter companies and conducting an online survey to get residents’ opinions on scooter rider behavior. The city will publish the full survey results online next week.

A key finding from the survey shows residents believe there is a need for scooters but they want more regulation around them. Residents also asked for more designated areas for scooter riding and parking.

For its part, Sargent said the city will create more designated parking areas with better signage.

“I think a lot people want to park in the right place and don’t know what that is,” she said. “Being able to show them in a more defined way will help.”

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