Greensboro council ponders regulating scooters

On the heels of JLF colleague Jon Sanders’ thoughtful post on the scooter situation cities are confronted with these days comes news that the Greensboro City Council is considering regulating scooters downtown:

City staff members told them that the Bird scooter company in August dropped off 100 scooters around town, and they have become popular with riders. City transportation officials said Tuesday the company now has 450 scooters in Greensboro.

In two months, 7,800 individual Bird riders have taken 25,000 rides over 36,247 miles. Bird riders use a phone app that charges $1 per ride and 20 cents a minute to users.

…City Councilwoman Sharon Hightower said she is concerned that scooters can pose a danger to riders who typically don’t wear helmets. The companies don’t provide helmets when riders rent a scooter.

“I don’t see why you would put another motorized mode of transportation on the street without a helmet,” Hightower said. “They need to lease them out with a helmet — I don’t think they’re safe.”

Councilwoman Marikay Abuzuaiter said she doesn’t like that Bird left behind the initial 100 scooters without contacting the city.

“I really have a problem with people coming and plopping down something in Greensboro. Most people are just joyriding. It’s just a toy,” she said.

I’ve been vocal about my issues with LimeBikes and I feel the same way about the scooters. But I’m also a free-market capitalist, and —like Sanders—would “hate to see this smart business model quashed by the government because of bad and dishonest (users lying to the companies providing them the service) consumption.” In my mind the popularity of LimeBikes and scooters–not mention ride share services such as Uber and Lyft— also undermines government calls for investment in expensive public transportation projects such as light rail.

Here’s my issue—it seems as though government wants to regulate every other issue of our lives, but if something’s hip and cool (at least in their minds) they’re all hands off. Like my JLF colleague, I would call for riders to assume some courtesy and responsibility, which is all we ask for in a civil society.

Sam Hieb / Contributing Editor

Sam Hieb is freelance journalist from Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a contributing editor for Carolina Journal and for Piedmont Publius, a blog that focuses on political a...

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