How Charlotte will handle e-scooters moving forward

How Charlotte will handle e-scooters moving forward
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Electric scooter ridership continues to be strong in Charlotte. But will they be able to stick around?

After a blazing start, the number of people riding Lime and Bird’s scooters has abated a little — but the services remain popular. More than 435,000 trips had been completed between May and September of this year.

About 120,000 of those trips came in September, the last month for which data was available.

Related Agenda story: I rode a Bird scooter 14 miles in one day. Here’s what I learned

So far, both Lime and Bird had been operating in Charlotte under a pilot program for “shared mobility,” which also includes the dockless bikes. They were approved for 400 scooters apiece.

Those pilot program permits expired November 1.

So what did the City Council decide to do?

Nothing, really.

The city of Charlotte has determined that e-scooters and dockless bikes are valuable, according to the Charlotte Department of Transportation. But there is still no concrete plan for moving forward.

The issue came up in a City Council committee, and they basically decided to let the state legislature handle regulating electric scooters. City staff said they believe the General Assembly will take up a bill to hammer out guidelines for them in all cities across the state in 2019.

In the meantime, Charlotte is working to extend the permits with Bird and Lime through July 31, 2019.

How does the state feel about companies like this?

This is good news if you’re a scooter fan. The state legislature has generally been in favor of innovative companies like Lime and Bird.

The General Assembly created deals with Uber and Lyft that gave them the ability to operate in North Carolina, over the objections of many municipalities that wanted to crack down on them. Same goes for Airbnb.

In the past, the General Assembly has passed a law preventing cities from banning Segways. Chances are the legislation that will emerge around electric scooters will be friendly.

The state legislative building. Photo by Dave Crosby via Flickr (Creative Commons)

So the city won’t do anything?

Well, not exactly nothing. The city of Charlotte is planning a marketing campaign to promote the rules for using scooters safely. This includes wearing a helmet, obeying traffic laws and riding sober.

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