City puts brakes on electric scooter rentals

Chris Miller
October 05, 2018 - 12:23 pm

City of New Orleans officials have decided to halt plans to legalize "dockless" electric scooter rentals. Dockless means that instead of leaving a scooter at a pre-determined drop point, renters would just leave them wherever, and a self-locking mechanism would deter would-be scooter thieves.

A news release from Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer's office said city leaders weren't ready to move ahead without first addressing the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, and users of public transportation. Apparently there was little desire to add electric two-wheel vehicles whizzing around streets and sidewalks.

"We worked collaboratively to craft legislation to explore this new technology option, but the potential complications for public safety are too high for us to move forward," said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. "As we continue to improve the City's infrastructure, we will place ourselves in a better position to incorporate transportation alternatives in the coming years. The City cannot support the electric scooter implementation at this time."

"In a city that is still working to establish a safe infrastructure and culture for bicycles, introducing hundreds of new small vehicles like the scooters would only serve to complicate these efforts," said Palmer. "Additionally, we do not believe the nearly 18 million visitors who come to New Orleans each year can be properly educated about the specific rules the pilot proposed."

Palmer's news release hinted that it may be taken up again at an unspecified time. Meanwhile, a recently-passed ordinance authorizes the city to remove vehicles left on public right of way, which would include dockless scooters or bicycles that aren't secured to bike racks.

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