Electric scooters appear to have avoided an outright ban in Nashville.
The Metro Council took up an intense debate just after midnight early Wednesday and the majority was unwilling to temporarily ban scooters from city streets, as had been proposed by Mayor David Briley.
Instead, the council advanced a plan to reduce scooter fleets by half, to add emergency regulations, and to move to a system that would allow only three companies to operate.
“We have too many units, not enough regulation, and too many providers,” said Councilwoman Tanaka Vercher, who co-sponsored the plan.
Vercher was one of 26 members who sent the proposal to a final vote on July 16.
It means they’ve rejected the mayor’s suggestion of a scooter moratorium. He had sought to remove scooters from the streets for about three months while new rules could be written, including issuing a request for proposals that would allow fewer companies.
That last piece — reducing the operators — remains intact in the council’s plan. But instead of taking scooters off the streets, the fleets would downsize. Council members said that companies Bird and Lime have already taken this step.
Other “emergency” rules proposed include:
- creation of no-ride areas and slow zones;
- requiring two company employees per 100 scooters;
- posting signage detailing that scooters cannot be used on sidewalks;
- creation of a hotline to handle complaints about interference with disabled access to sidewalks
- faster response times to all other complaints.
“The scooters are providing a great option to move people around the city. If we look at completely banning them, I believe that that’s a little bit shortsighted,” said Councilwoman Delishia Porterfield.
While the council veered away from a ban, the members did leave themselves wiggle room to take action later. If the scooter reduction isn't effective, they could vote on a total ban in late August.
Details differed in the proposals, but the council’s dismay over scooters was unanimous among those who spoke. The existing rules have failed, they said.
“Like many of you, I’m sick of them,” said Councilman Jeremy Elrod, who shaped the city’s regulations in the first place.
Councilwoman Burkley Allen said Metro must figure out how to enforce its rules. She was among several who noted skepticism that the various companies will adhere to the regulations, as they’re again promising to do.
“Seeing is believing,” Allen said.