City of Raleigh wants to regulate Bird scooters

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Riders on electric scooters are zooming past pedestrians on the sidewalk in downtown Raleigh.

The Bird scooters have been easy to spot throughout downtown, Glenwood South, and Cameron Village ever since the California-based company deployed 150 of them overnight on July 10 and July 11, without announcement or notice to the city.

"They just dropped them off," said Michael Moore, Director of Transportation for the City of Raleigh.

At the direction of the City Council, Moore and his staff are now working to set regulations for the dockless scooters.

City staff acknowledged the scooters' efficiency and convenience and applauded their ability to reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.

However, at Tuesday's City Council meeting, a number of issues were raised, including the impact on public safety, specifically the risk to pedestrians from riding on the sidewalk and tripping hazards created when scooters are improperly parked.

While state law defines the Birds as "mopeds," city code would call them "vehicles," which means they can't drive on sidewalks or greenways or in bicycle lanes.

Bird's safety rules encourage riders to use the bicycle lanes, but also to wear a helmet at all times.

The company will even send riders a free helmet at the cost of shipping.

Emily Forbes chooses to wear her personal helmet while riding but doesn't think the city should enforce it for everyone, which might deter people from riding.

"I don't really agree with that," she said. "I think they should encourage as many people to use them as possible because it's less people driving and there's already a parking and traffic problem downtown."

Other cities have implemented temporary bans while they come up with regulations for the electric scooters; Raleigh leaders chose not to do that.

Moore has 60 days to come up with regulations and their use of the right of way.
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