At­lanta bans elec­tric scoot­ers at night af­ter deadly wrecks

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Jeff Martin and Andrea Smith

AT­LANTA — At­lanta has banned elec­tric scoot­ers in the night­time hours dur­ing what’s been a deadly sum­mer for riders.

The ban comes as cities across the na­tion strug­gle to reg­u­late the com­pa­nies rent­ing the de­vices and keep riders safe.

In At­lanta, three riders have died since May in crashes that in­volved a pub­lic bus, an SUV and a car. Po­lice in the At­lanta sub­urb of East Point say a fourth rider was killed there Tues­day in a col­li­sion in­volv­ing his scooter and a truck.

“Sadly, we have seen a pattern in the re­cent and tragic fa­tal­i­ties in­volv­ing scoot­ers — they all oc­curred af­ter sun­set,” At­lanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bot­toms said in a state­ment Thurs­day.

City of­fi­cials on Thurs­day an­nounced a ban on elec­tric scoot­ers and elec­tric bikes from 9 p.m. un­til 4 a.m. daily. The ban took ef­fect Fri­day.

“This en­vi­ron­ment didn’t ex­ist 14 months ago or 12 months ago — this is a brand-new thing,” said Tim Keane, At­lanta’s com­mis­sioner of city plan­ning.

“We want this to be tem­po­rary,” he said. “We hope that this ban is very tem­po­rary.”

City of­fi­cials have asked e-scooter ven­dors to dis­able the de­vices dur­ing the hours they’re banned, the mayor said. The com­pa­nies are co­op­er­at­ing, and “I’ve heard no push­back at all,” Keane said.

“We think it’s a rea­son­able step as a tem­po­rary mea­sure while the scooter pro­gram is re-ex­am­ined,” said Nima Daivari, Lime’s com­mu­nity af­fairs man­ager for Ge­or­gia. San Fran­cisco-based Lime has one of the largest fleets in At­lanta, with an av­er­age of about 1,800 avail­able for rent last month. “They see the value here, and At­lanta is a city that’s no­to­ri­ous for traf­fic con­ges­tion.”

Traf­fic safety data show­ing the dan­gers of rid­ing dur­ing late-night hours is “com­pelling,” Santa Mon­ica, Cal­i­for­ni­abased Bird said in a state­ment Thurs­day. It had more than 1,200 de­vices op­er­at­ing in At­lanta last month, city records show.

Late-night and ear­ly­morn­ing travel, es­pe­cially be­tween mid­night and 5 a.m., is “many times more dan­ger­ous due to im­paired road users, fa­tigue and poor vis­i­bil­ity,” Bird said. The com­pany has man­aged its ser­vice hours to avoid late night rid­ing, and will com­ply with At­lanta’s new guide­lines, it added.

Ja­son Lay­field was vis­it­ing At­lanta from Guam on Thurs­day, and rode a mo­tor­ized scooter for the first time to get back and forth from his ho­tel and the con­ven­tion he’s at­tend­ing.

“I don’t see it nec­es­sar­ily as a bad thing to limit rid­ing at night,” he said. “I don’t know that that’s 100% nec­es­sary, but I can un­der­stand how it may be a good idea.”

Other com­mu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing Dal­las; Nashville, Ten­nessee; and Athens, Ge­or­gia, have re­cently con­sid­ered some form of reg­u­la­tion of scoot­ers, partly over con­cerns about safety.

Chicago has a night­time ban sim­i­lar to At­lanta’s new pol­icy. Scoot­ers there must be in­op­er­a­ble af­ter 10 p.m. and off the streets by mid­night, said Isaac Re­ich­man, a Chicago Depart­ment of Busi­ness Af­fairs and Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion spokesman. They’re al­lowed to op­er­ate at 5 a.m. the next day, he said.

The fed­eral Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion re­viewed med­i­cal records from scooter riders in Austin, Texas, in an ef­fort to learn more about the risks as­so­ci­ated with rid­ing them. Researcher­s in the Austin study iden­ti­fied 192 scooter-re­lated in­juries in three months in 2018.

Nearly half of those were head in­juries, in­clud­ing 15% that were trau­matic brain in­juries, the CDC­said in its re­port. The researcher­s also found a trou­bling trend: Less than 1% of the in­jured riders wore a hel­met.

“We em­brace scoot­ers and bikes and we want peo­ple to be able to get around on them, par­tic­u­larly peo­ple who are start­ing to de­pend on them for ac­cess to tran­sit and their jobs and things like that,” Keane said. “Where we have the chance to make them safer, we have to do that.”

JOHN BAZEMORE/AP

At­lanta is ban­ning elec­tric scoot­ers dur­ing night­time hours dur­ing what has been a deadly sum­mer for riders.

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