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City council approves new rules on motorized scooters

UPDATE: The Columbia City Council approved new rules for electric scooters and an agreement with Bird Scooters at its meeting on Monday night.

ORIGINAL: The City of Columbia’s tentative agreement with Bird Rides, Inc. and Pony Scooter, Inc., electric scooter companies, is scheduled to be voted on at Monday night’s city council meeting.

The city also has an ordinance amending the city code.

A ‘yes’ vote would amend three city code chapters, which include the following proposed amendments:

Defined “motor propelled scooter,” which would be limited to a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour. You must be 16 years of age or older to operate a motor propelled scooter. Operating a motor propelled scooter would not be allowed in city parks and trails. Motor propelled scooters are not allowed on sidewalks, public parking lots and garages within the Central Business District. You must follow traffic laws and safety equipment regulations when operating a motor propelled scooter. Any person who violates the regulations could be subject to a fine of no more than $100 and no less than $5.

Deputy City Manager J.J. Musgrove said the agreement involves Bird paying the city $1 per day, per scooter. Right now there are about 750 scooters in the city and 250 more are expected from another scooter company, Pony, by the end of January. This means the city would make about$1,000 per day from these scooters.

The city would also collect a regulatory fee from the company, as well as a fee for public maintenance of city streets and sidewalks. The company would be responsible for sending safety information to its users, and requiring its workers to make sure scooters are placed in the right spots throughout the day.

If the scooters are left somewhere they should not be, the amendment said the city has the right to impound the scooters. The companies would have to pay $50 for each day the scooters are impounded.

The agreement also restricts use of the scooters after dusk and during inclement weather. “Bird has been working closely with Columbia city officials to put in place a framework that works for everyone and ultimately advances our shared goal of getting cars off the road. We are grateful for the partnership we have built with ( Deputy City Manager) Musgrove and other city officials, and we look forward to continue serving the people of Columbia with our last-mile solution,” Bird said in a statement.

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