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Raleigh overregulation kills off e-scooters

They’ve paid for the new city logo. They promote their city as a cool, hip, new urban mecca. But once again, when market choices don’t square with their dictates, Raleigh’s leaders choose to be on the cane-waving side of the “Keep off our lawn” news stories.

What I don’t get is why hyperregulatory politicians still tend to get the votes of the people whose consumer choices keep getting quashed; in this case, tech-savvy hipsters.

Anna Johnson of the Herald-Sun broke the news today that e-scooter companies Bird and Lime are leaving Raleigh. This was pretty much a fait accompli when Raleigh dumped its regulations on them. They were, as I argued then, crafted “to interfere with their business model so as to make the things infeasible.”

Let’s recap the poison-pill regulations:

  • Fees of $300 per scooter (these are in addition to application and administrative fees).
  • Minimum number of scooters per company: 50 (which the city can revise any time).
  • Maximum number of scooters per company: 500 (which the city can revise any time).
  • Providing monthly reports to city officials on rates, discounts, trips, distances, instances of vandalism, complaints and resolutions, uses, and users (“anonymized”).
  • Provide additional data to a third-party researcher of the city’s choice that would include even more information, including customer demographics (gender and age).
  • “Equity” requirements whereby scooter companies must adopt “diverse payment options” to “reduce barriers to low-income persons to rent” the scooters. Companies are given 30 days to give the city their plan for scooters to be available to people who lack a “smart phone and/or a bank account.”
  • This plan must include any discounts to “students, low income or at-risk populations, and/or other categories.”
  • They must also place 20 percent of their scooters in city-designated “Communities of Concern.”

Jon Sanders / Director of Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...

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