Electric bikes and scooters have been popping up on metro Atlanta roads and sidewalks since last spring. Companies such as Bird, Lime, Lyft and Uber have deployed the devices, which their customers rent through phone apps.
Supporters say they’re a boon to people who use them for short trips and a key to addressing metro Atlanta’s future transportation needs. But the devices have proliferated faster than regulations to govern them, and local officials are scrambling to catch up.
In January the Atlanta City Council approved rules that require scooters to be parked upright on sidewalks, leaving room for pedestrians. Decatur has heavily regulated electric scooters, and Marietta recently banned them.
Now lawmakers have proposed statewide regulations.
Tanner's House Bill 454 would prohibit people from parking "motorized mobility devices" — designed to transport one person and traveling up to 20 mph — from parking on sidewalks (unless allowed by local ordinance), crosswalks, intersections and other locations that could hinder vehicles and pedestrians. The bill would allow anyone who encounters a device parked in a dangerous manner to move it.
HB 454 would allow people to ride electric scooters on bike paths, in bike lanes and on roads with a speed limit of 35 mph or less if no bike lane or path is available. It also includes provisions that would protect riders — for example, motorists would be required to yield to riders if they’re operating a device in a bike lane.
The committee expects to vote on the bill next week, after several tweaks are made.
House Bill 215 would allow electric bikes to use paved paths if they are not capable of reaching a speed of 20 mph or if the motor stops when the bike reaches that speed. It also would require people who ride faster electric bikes to wear helmets.
State Rep. Teri Anulewicz, D-Smyrna, the bill's sponsor, said it would establish basic rules for an emerging technology. The committee passed the bill, which now goes to the House Rules Committee.
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