Electric scooters have not flooded Brookhaven’s streets like they have in nearby Atlanta, but city officials say they know they are coming. Anticipating their arrival, the City Council unanimously approved March 26 an ordinance that includes requiring companies obtain permits to place scooters in the city limits as well as limiting each company to 50 scooters each.
Brookhaven’s ordinance follows the Atlanta City Council’s recent passage of its own e-scooter restrictions that also includes a permit system.
Councilmember Joe Gebbia initially opposed the ordinance, saying they pose serious safety risks. He requested the city wait for reports on scooter injuries such as one requested by the city of Atlanta before approving any kind of regulations.
Councilmember Bates Mattison said putting a law on the books regulating scooters and other dockless mobility devices now is better than waiting to deal with the city being overrun with scooters and no enforcement mechanisms in place.
“It is just a reality that we live in metro Atlanta. We’re going to see more and more of these,” Mattison said.
Gebbia eventually voted to approve the ordinance after an amendment was made to limit the number of scooters per company from 100 to 50.
The scooter companies Bird and Lime distributed their battery-powered vehicles around Atlanta last year without permission or notice. The scooters, which can be picked up and left anywhere, became popular with riders, while drawing city attention for safety hazards and sidewalk blockages. Atlanta and the city of Brookhaven almost immediately began discussion about regulating the vehicles.
Brookhaven has been forced to impound dozens of scooters left in the middle of sidewalks and city right-of-way, creating safety hazards for pedestrians as well as people in wheelchairs and with strollers.
Scooters are required by the new ordinance to be parked only in the “furniture zone” in pedestrian areas – areas where benches, newspaper kiosks, utility poles, tree pits and bicycle parking are located.
Users are also required to ride the scooters in bike lanes and not on sidewalks. If bike lanes are not available, users may ride scooters in roads where the speed limit is 35 miles per hour or less. Helmets are required for riders younger than 16.
Councilmember Linley Jones said despite concern the city is possibly legislating for something that is not currently a problem, but it was wise to anticipate scooters becoming prevalent in the city just as they are in Atlanta and across the country.
“I do think it’s important to regulate this as soon as possible,” she said.