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New rules for scooters in Montgomery

Oct 31, 2023Oct 31, 2023

Montgomery city officials are asking the company behind 180 new scooters in town to scoot toward new rules.

At the request of the city council, Bird, the electric scooter company, has issued new local requirements for riding its scooters.

Bird first released the scooters in March. Since then, people have ridden the scooters 15,500 times and traveled about 22,000 miles. Because of the scooters, people have also saved about 7,000 of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the atmosphere, said Bruno Lopes, the senior manager of government partnerships.

Lopes said that the high number of people riding scooters has "definitely exceeded expectations."

But people have also complained that riders are weaving in and out of traffic, running people off the sidewalks and entering businesses on the scooters.

"As you know there's been some issues as there always is with new launches," Lopes said. "It's something we always try to communicate with our city partners that we don't know what hiccups are going to come. The one thing is we’re always committed to addressing them working with the city to implementing the different tools we have available to make sure we’re tailoring the program to exactly what Montgomery needs."

The complaints have driven Bird to enact a curfew, shutting off the scooters at 10 p.m. Bird officials have also decided to make the scooters only available to people 18 and older.

They have created slow zones, especially in town, where scooters automatically slow down in areas with more traffic. They are blocking off certain areas, and scooters will turn off when they reach these areas. These locations are the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center, the Embassy Suites, the Alley, Biscuit Stadium, the parking deck across from the stadium and the state Capitol grounds, said Robert Smith, the city planning director.

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City Council President Charles Jinright was not in attendance for the Bird presentation, but Jinright said he has gotten calls about people getting up to nefarious activity on the scooters. He said he thinks the scooters are hurting the tourism industry in town.

"These scooters are creating some issues where they’re running tourists off the sidewalk," Jinright said.

He said he doesn't think the scooters should be an amenity for residents. "The scooters should be for our tourists," Jinright said. "I don't think we should have them as an entertainment issue."

The council decided to have a special meeting where people can discuss the scooters in a public hearing.

Along with discussion of the scooters, City Councilor Marche Johnson suggested that the council impose a curfew for those younger than 18 in the city's entertainment districts: the downtown area, Cloverdale and Cottage Hill. The curfew would be 10 p.m.

City Councilor Oronde Mitchell piggybacked off Johnson's idea and put forward the idea of having a citywide curfew for kids in Montgomery.

The council did not immediately take any action on the entertainment district curfew proposal.

Alex Gladden is the Montgomery Advertiser's public safety reporter. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @gladlyalex.

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