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The Mayor and Commission banned e-scooters in Athens with a unanimous vote on in December 2018. (Erin Schilling/Staff)

 

Athens-Clarke County assistant attorney Sherrie Hines sought feedback on a proposal for a pilot program for shareable e-scooters and mopeds to the Athens in Motion Commission at a Jan. 28 meeting.

The proposed program would last for one year and would assess whether rental e-scooters and mopeds could be operated safely and in accordance with state and local laws, Hines said.

The Mayor and Commission banned e-scooters in Athens with a unanimous vote on in December 2018. The ban was originally set to last for one year, but the Mayor and Commission extended the ban during an October 2019 meeting. The ban is currently set to expire June 4.

AiMC was created by a resolution adopted by the Mayor and Commission in June of last year and is responsible for developing and implementing a plan “for a safe and connected network of bicycle and pedestrian facilities” throughout the county, according to ACC’s website.

The ACC government has worked on the pilot program for “well over a year,” Hines said.

AiMC member Jake Maas said the program may be a “non-story” if the vehicles are not allowed on UGA’s campus, because many of the program’s potential riders need to access the campus.

Hines asked AiMC to provide the Legislative Review Committee with feedback on the proposal, but said there is no deadline for providing feedback.

During the program, ACC would select two vendors to supply the vehicles based on pricing and would give preference to vendors that offer reduced prices or free rentals to low-income users, according to Hines’ presentation. Vendors would be required to offer rental services to people without access to a bank account or credit card.

ACC would charge fees to the vendors selected for the pilot to cover the costs of monitoring the program and measuring its success, Hines said.

Vendors would be required to perform routine maintenance checks on every deployed device to ensure safety, and have safety demonstrations for riders readily available either on an app or on the vehicles, according to Hines’ presentation.

Riders would not be allowed to operate the vehicles on sidewalks and could only park the scooters in “authorized locations.” Parking would be allowed in designated parking corrals created for the program, as well as on sidewalks, as long as the vehicle is parked upright and leaves at least 4 feet of space for pedestrians to navigate on the sidewalk, according to the presentation.

Only individuals 18 and older would be allowed to rent the vehicles, and users could only operate them between dawn and dusk, according to the presentation. Some e-scooters have lights, but they are not bright enough to be noticed by drivers, Hines said.

The program would “strongly encourage” riders to wear a helmet when using the vehicles, but would not require it, Hines said. Georgia law requires bicycle riders under 16 to wear a helmet, and any motorcycle or moped rider must wear a helmet.

Hines also said the vehicles would be limited to 19 mph.

Under the program, the e-scooters and mopeds would be geofenced and would automatically shut down if taken outside of authorized areas, according to the presentation. Hines also said geofencing could be used to enforce lower speed limits for the vehicles in high traffic areas.

E-scooter vendors would be allowed to harvest user data through the program but only after users opt-in to data sharing. ACC would receive some of this data from the vendor to enforce rider compliance with regulations, but the data would be anonymized and the local government would not have users’ names, according to Hines.

AiMC’s next meeting is on Feb. 25.

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