Electric scooters that have become popular and controversial in Atlanta recently appeared in Dunwoody and Sandy Springs. But Bird, the company that made and operates them, says it has not officially expanded into those cities and it is unclear what the scooters are doing there.
The controversial rentable scooters have been touted as increasing transportation options, but criticized for creating public safety concerns. Atlanta has banned the scooters from sidewalks and set fees for companies, and Brookhaven also instituted a permit system and sidewalk ban for scooters on March 26. The city of Dunwoody is weighing options and Sandy Springs does not have an ordinance up for consideration.
The Reporter recently spotted Bird scooters on the Dunwoody campus of Georgia State University’s Perimeter College and outside a vacant store on Roswell Road in Sandy Springs’ downtown district.
A spokesperson for Bird said the scooters are not officially operating in those cities and that users sometimes drop the vehicles outside its areas. But the spokesperson was surprised to hear the Sandy Springs location had the scooters neatly lined up in the way the company has contractors set them up for use, and said the company would have to look into that situation further.
A GSU spokesperson said the school was unaware of scooters on campus and has no policy regarding their use.
Dunwoody City Councilmember Lynn Deutsch and Mayor Denis Shortal have said they would like to see a regional approach taken to regulating the scooters by teaming up with area cities such as Brookhaven and Sandy Springs to write an ordinance.
Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul commented on the scooters, saying he sees the pros and cons involved, during the Feb. 5 City Council meeting. They are “good for last-mile connectivity,” filling the gap between a destination and a public transit stop, and are a “technology that’s here to stay,” Paul said. But they can create public safety issues and “conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles,” he said.
Sandy Springs spokesperson Sharon Kraun said the city is not currently planning to introduce regulations.
“We are monitoring the legislative issues related to this matter and evaluating any potential impacts,” Kraun said in an email. “At this point, we do not have any proposed changes to our existing codes.”
The Atlanta City Council in January approved an ordinance to ban scooter riders from sidewalks, keeping them on streets, bicycle lanes and multiuse paths only. Other regulations include charging scooter companies a fee of $12,000 for the first 500 vehicles and $50 for each additional one.
–John Ruch, Evelyn Andrews and Dyana Bagby