One week after e-scooter death, East Point joins talk to regulate

A week after a man was struck and killed on an electric scooter in their city, the East Point City Council discussed Monday how to regulate the devices.

Joining the statewide conversation being held in other cities, there was discussion of outright banning the scooters. Instead, East Point is leaning toward requiring companies to pay for a permit to have the scooters inside the city of 35,000 residents. As of now, the city has no rules specifically for the devices.

Council members admit that regulations wouldn't have saved the life of Quienterry McGriff, 45, the fourth person since May to be killed while riding an e-scooter in metro Atlanta. Police say McGriff ran a red light and was struck by a commercial gas truck about 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 6.

The city began working on scooter regulations months before McGriff’s accident, but has still not passed any rules.

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Days after McGriff died, the city of Atlanta put a temporary ban on the use of e-scooters and e-bikes from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. East Point officials agreed it would be a good idea to add a nighttime ban to its own proposed ordinance.

Police said McGriff was riding a Jump brand scooter, which is owned by rideshare giant Uber. Jump scooters can be rented using with the same app used to hail traditional Uber vehicle rides.

READ | Which metro Atlanta cities have banned e-scooters?

Jump has 1,200 of the 12,700 registered scooters in Atlanta, according to a June report from Atlanta's city planning department. In all, Atlanta has seven scooter rental companies operating in the city.

“The reality is that we can do all the moratoriums we want, but we’re right next to the city of Atlanta,” said East Point Councilman Thomas Calloway during the Monday work session. McGriff’s accident happened about a mile from the Atlanta-East Point border. Calloway added: “Whatever Atlanta does right now is what’s driving the conversation.”

A year and a half ago, Midtown sidewalks were flooded with scooters from industry leaders Bird and Lime, forcing Atlanta politicians to create new regulations.

The state Legislature parked a pair of bills that would have regulated e-scooters statewide, leaving cities to figure out their own solutions. Municipal staff all over metro Atlanta say scooter companies invade cities without the blessing of elected officials, and get residents attached to their service before the cities have reviewed their business plans.

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The Georgia Municipal Association had a conference call with East Point and other cities to work on a draft of statewide e-scooter laws, according to spokeswoman Amy Henderson. She said the association is talking to cities to see what their concerns are so they can represent those to legislators on a Senate committee to study e-scooters.

“Technology has outpaced the law,” Henderson said. The issues the GMA would like addressed include broad concerns, like if scooters should be allowed in bike lanes, she said.

Some cities, like Marietta and Alpharetta, have banned the devices. Lilburn banned scooters for 12 months to allow time for other cities to develop best practices.

Silicon Valley companies pitched scooters as a solution to the last-mile problem — a way to get people from transit hubs to offices or homes. That’d be helpful in a city like East Point, which has a MARTA station in its downtown.

A part of what makes the devices revolutionary is that riders can leave the scooters anywhere once they have arrived where they’re going, but that also leads to cluttered streets and annoyed city officials.

RELATED | How safe is that e-scooter? Atlanta hospitals asked to tally injuries

During Monday night’s meeting, East Point council members also discussed a fine of up to $100 an hour to the company if a resident calls in asking the device be removed. Councilwoman Karen Rene said she has a scooter near her home that has been in a yard so long “the grass has grown on top of it.”

To better ensure rider safety, the East Point council also discussed things like limiting the device’s maximum speed, which is usually capped at 15 mph.

Brad Bowman, city attorney, said he would take the City Council’s suggestions, research them and incorporate them if possible into a new ordinance to be presented at the meeting on Monday at 6:30 p.m. in city hall, 2757 East Point St.

Atlanta will also continue its work toward more comprehensive scooter regulations. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Tuesday that two Atlanta city councilmen are hosting a town hall meeting to discuss electric scooters at 6 p.m. on Aug. 26 inside City Hall, 55 Trinity Ave. SW.

Staff writer Stephen Deere contributed to this report

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