The Idaho Falls City Council is considering whether to regulate electric scooters in the city.
On Monday, the Council looked over a draft ordinance setting some rules for e-scooter users and the companies that wish to provide them. It would require e-scooters to have safety equipment such as a horn and reflectors, specify only one person at a time can ride one and ban reckless operation. It would say e-scooters can be ridden in the road or on a sidewalk, but not against the flow of traffic on the road and riders would be required to yield to pedestrians on the sidewalk. It would require that e-scooters and e-bikes not be parked in a way that obstructs pedestrians or other traffic or that damages trees, shrubs or public property and prohibit abandoning them in a public place. And it would set speed limits of 15 mph on sidewalks and whatever the posted speed limit is on a roadway.
The ordinance, which was drafted with the input of several city departments including the police, public works, Community Development Services, Parks and Recreation and the legal department, also would set up some regulations for the companies, requiring them to get a business license and register their e-bikes or e-scooters. The companies would be required to use software preventing their e-bikes or e-scooters from going faster than 30 mph. And the companies would have to establish “allowable use areas” and locations where the e-bikes and e-scooters could be returned after daily collection and recharging. The ordinance itself doesn’t put any limits on where they can be ridden, though, other than banning them from the Idaho Falls Zoo.
The scooters, which riders use apps to rent by the minute, have been becoming an increasingly popular mode of transportation in cities across the country over the past few years, and the first fleet of them arrived in Idaho Falls in September. Mayor Rebecca Casper said she doesn’t want to over-regulate the scooters but also wants to avoid some of the problems other cities have run into.
“There’s a balance to be struck,” she said.
The ordinance will likely be on the agenda for the Nov. 26 Council meeting, although the Council could make some changes to it. Councilman John Radford said he liked much of what is in the ordinance, but he wonders if there should be some fees charged to e-scooter companies to cover part of the city’s enforcement costs.
Councilman Jim Francis said he has concerns about setting the sidewalk speed limit at 15 mph, particularly downtown. He suggested lowering it, possibly just for a downtown area the ordinance would have to define.
“Those are the busiest sidewalks in town,” he said.