How cities should regulate the scooter surge
This article from Curbed discussed a new report by the NACTO, “Guidelines for the Regulation and Management of Shared Active Transportation http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001hpCMF90qxHIrXECg_jUiBq7mo5rCns1PNYXt4tdGNWmMRBhTrxUl5WIvKqoZRQUeqc_nWU94_IEIKhDXtAUu2KafInk0GRdZUL4QJ6JXjlzvVak9OLSqdxNR0p2cRZ4ZxHuO5qnmSRRO0V9THkUpZDve7VeEsId4qV_7mKZCppJR2RNJO1l2CD7DSD4_5c0Mc7RnaqEo3NEykIm9-5hHrA==&c=Y30a38ulTyf8xUq0RNfsn5tCNWmArNKztHcufnDLHDunR9BRl6_gmg==&ch=Ng2_VHegAw73DNh8Tnct8h4D1BeF9ryGhZ1SKSk7QU2kT0G7Lr0Vxw==,” which lays out potential rules and regulations for the fast-growing world of electric scooters and dockless bikeshare, collating current examples from more than a dozen cities with existing policies, permitting fees, and ideas for equity programming.
In many respects, the NACTO report offers common-sense recommendations, beginning with the not-so-radical idea that cities—which have the financial and legal responsibility to build, maintain, and protect the local transit system—should have a say in deciding what vehicles are allowed to use said streets.
The report comes down hard on the common practices of tech transit companies, that tend to beg for forgiveness as opposed to asking for permission. Due to differing and sometimes incomplete regulations, ebikes, scooters, and electric scooters “exist in a regulatory grey area, regulated in a limited fashion on an individual or recreational level but not envisioned en masse or in an automated rental scenario.”
The NACTO report also offers a few starting points for cities that want to design pilot programs to help these companies expand. These proposed rules of the road offer a pretty easy template for cities to adopt. Most importantly, they should take control of the street and the curb. New startups also should require legal permission, which can cap the number of vehicles in operation, and be subject to fines or expulsion if rules or regulations are flagrantly or repeatedly violated.
Cities should push for data-sharing, transparency, and safety. Agreed-upon rules to clear disabled or downed vehicles from right-of-ways should be strictly enforced, cities should be aware of staffing and operations plans, protocols for extreme weather or natural disasters should be clearly laid out.
Additionally, companies should be rewarded for pushing equity and access to underserved neighborhoods. For example, in St. Louis, dockless bike companies will be allowed to expand past an initial 2,500 vehicle cap, but only if they present and implement a social equity plan and meet other ridership requirements. I