Oakwood puts moratorium on shared electronic bikes, scooters

Councilman Rob Stephens has led the research into providing information regarding how shared mobility devices have caused a disruption to pedestrians and business owners in other cities.

“Dockless electric scooters and bicycles, which are available to be rented on demand from unstaffed locations, have arrived in many cities suddenly and unexpectedly and have proliferated rapidly,” Stephens said at council’s recent meeting. “Some of the most visible examples include Bird and Lime scooters among others.”

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The councilman said these type of businesses offer app-based rides that allows a customer to find a scooter or e-bike around the community, unlock it and then pay for it from the app.

He added that those types of shared mobility devices are largely unregulated and exist in a “legal limbo,” where despite some level of public demand, they can’t be legally used on sidewalks due to their status as motor vehicles under state law.

The devices also can’t be legally operated on city streets, he noted, “due to equipment limitations, and the lack of adequate mechanisms for titling, registering and insuring them. As a result, there are several lawsuits pending around the nation.”

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In April, Dayton city commissioners approved legislation that imposes new rules on electric-motorized devices and the companies that rent them out.

There are no comprehensive statistics available but a rough count by the Associated Press of media reports turned up at least 11 electric scooter rider deaths in the U.S. since the beginning of 2018. Nine were on rented scooters and two on ones the victims owned.

Stephens said until Ohio’s General Assembly determines a path forward, the problems that arise from shared mobility devices must be addressed by local governments.

“In cities where shared mobility devices are available, they are frequently abandoned by users wherever they happen to stop. On streets, sidewalks and doorways and other public places,” he explained. “This creates visual clutter, and more importantly, safety concerns. Especially for the most vulnerable pedestrians.”

Stephens said the devices have appealed to many minors that use them without helmets, creating another safety concern.

“While we do not anticipate that Oakwood will be a major market for these devices, it is important to have legislation in place before the first vendor chooses to locate here,” he said. “Our intent is to revisit the issue in one year when the legal landscape may have become more firmly settled.”

Resident Kay Wert Minardi is not opposed to the legislation and also is hopeful for bike safety to be practiced in the community.

“Many communities forbid the riding of bicycles on sidewalks by anyone other than children because bicyclists can travel so much faster than pedestrians, it is not particularly safe for the two to share the same narrow thoroughfare,” she said.

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