Several e-scooters and bikes filled a boardroom Monday while Georgia state senators heard from companies such as Lime and Bird. It was the first time Georgia state lawmakers met to consider legislation around dockless devices.
Topics ranged from public safety to how scooter companies share data with cities to the four scooter-related deaths in Metro Atlanta.
State Sen. Steve Gooch, the chair of the five-Senator committee charged with evaluating e-scooters in the state, said public safety for Georgians is a priority.
“We don’t want to see the scooter industry go away,” says Gooch. “But we do want to look at ways to protect citizens and riders going forward.”
Paul Guerrucci, police chief of the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, also spoke at the committee meeting. The Authority includes the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Although scooters are banned on sidewalks in Atlanta, Guerrucci said he sees riders there all the time near the stadium. He requested a geofence to ban scooters from the area.
He said during major events there can be up to 80,000 attendees at the Stadium.
“We have the e-scooters commingle with the pedestrian flow and creates safety concerns for us,” he said.
Scooters came to Atlanta in 2018. Earlier this year, the Atlanta City Council passed an ordinance regulating the devices. After three scooter-related deaths within the city, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms passed an executive order to ban new scooter permits. The Mayor also banned nighttime riding. About 12,000 scooters are allowed in the city.
How scooters are parked in the city is also a concern. The city’s Department of Public Works impounds scooters illegally parked in the right-of-way. From April to June of this year, Atlanta impounded more than 2,000 scooters. The city is working on a policy on how to collect more than $250,000 in impound fees from companies.
Advocates have called for Atlanta to make street safer for all users, including pedestrians, wheelchair users, drivers, bikers and scooter riders. They’ve called for more dedicated lanes for bikes and scooters as well as lowering the speed limit in the city.
Earlier this month, the Atlanta City Council passed a measure to conduct a study on speed limits in the city.
Two more senate committee meetings are expected. Lawmakers plan to evaluate the state’s bicycle law and how it can relate to rentable scooters.
They also plan to hear from more officials from law enforcement, universities and MARTA. Senators plan to report their findings by the end of the year.