Georgia rules for electric scooters scrapped until next year

Georgia lawmakers have scrapped plans to regulate electric scooters this year, but rules for e-bikes moved forward Monday

State Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, told the Senate Public Safety Committee Monday he's putting off proposed statewide rules for electric scooters until next year while negotiations with scooter companies continue. But regulations of electric bikes passed the committee by a unanimous vote.

Electric scooters have been popping up across metro Atlanta since last spring. Supporters say they're great for short trips, but critics say they're a nuisance. The devices have proliferated so fast that local governments are scrambling to enact rules for their use.

House Bill 454 originally would have regulated electric scooters statewide. It prohibited people from parking them on sidewalks and other locations that could hinder vehicles or pedestrians. And it allowed people to ride them 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.

But negotiations with companies that lease scooters are not complete, Tanner told the committee. So on Monday the committee approved a version of HB 454 with the scooter regulations stripped out. Instead, it now regulates electric bikes.

The bill 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. Among other things, it also would require people who ride faster electric bikes to wear helmets.

The bike regulations are identical to those found in House Bill 215, sponsored by Rep. Teri Anulewicz, D-Smyrna, which failed to pass the House of Representatives before a deadline earlier this month.

The bill now goes to the Senate Rules Committee.