Hundreds — and potentially thousands — of dockless electric scooters could be back on Nashville streets before the end of the year.
The Metro Council is close to hammering out its final regulations, permit process and fines. Compared to there being no rules back in the spring, the city would have a huge batch of scooter rules — pages of them, spelling out fees for scooter companies, a prohibition against riding on sidewalks within business districts, and a long list of where not to park them.
See the full policy: here.
“I would argue that the version that is before you today is one of the most stringent in the country, and gives our city government a lot of tools and a lot of leeway and a lot of leverage to regulate this as it goes along,” Councilman Jeremy Elrod, the architect of the rules, recently told his council peers (see the council's most recent scooter debate).
The proposed ordinance goes on to require companies to educate riders, to encourage the use of helmets, to respond quickly to problems (by phone and with a response team) and to give the city precise data about where and how often the vehicles are traveling.
If the usage numbers show some sitting idle, they must be taken out of rotation. Otherwise, the city will cap each company’s fleet at 1,000 — beginning with a tighter cap for the first two months of operation.
“If [companies] aren’t good actors, if they aren’t educating their users to stay off the sidewalks, if they aren’t enforcing the prohibition on certain parking prohibitions … they cannot increase their fleet,” Elrod said.
The regulations are likely to pass on Tuesday night as a one-year pilot.
But there are questions from downtown Councilman Freddie O’Connell about how they’ll all be enforced — and why they were put together without more public meetings or study of the havoc that followed their first appearance. O’Connell’s district was overrun this spring by Bird scooters, prompting Metro to confiscate hundreds and to make these new rules.
“I hope that this policy gives us the opportunity to rectify some of the quality-of-life issues that were trampled the first time out,” O’Connell said.
He fears city police and Metro Public Works will struggle with enforcement. And he’s worried about crashes, as well as piles of poorly parked scooters being left near businesses
“You don’t want them to be like litter,” O’Connell said. “You want them to be a mobility innovation.”
He said this branch of the emerging “sharing” industry puts pressure on city infrastructure and can interfere with private property.
“The speed with which this conversation has played out in Nashville means I don’t think we have put enough attention on how big those burdens are,” he said.