WINSTON-SALEM — The Winston-Salem Public Safety Committee voted Monday to ban the use of the electric scooters based on public safety concerns.
The committee voted 3-1 to prohibit the use of the popular scooters. Council members Vivian Burke, John Larson and James Taylor voted for the ban, and council member Jeff MacIntosh voted against it. The issue arose after scooters belonging to the company Bird began appearing around Winston-Salem in August. Bird scooter owners were present at the meeting, and the city directed the owners to remove the scooters immediately.
City Manager Lee Garrity told WXII 12 that the ban is temporary until city leaders draft a workable ordinance. Several proposals have been proposed related to the popular, shareable scooters, including requiring the use of helmets and a minimum age of 18 for use.
Bird scooters were also present in Greensboro in August. Officials there have also ordered the fleet of scooters off of its streets for now so they can revise ordinances to accommodate them.
Greensboro officials last week asked Bird Rides Inc. to remove the scooters after they were found lying on sidewalks, impeding foot traffic or being used in bike lanes, where motorized vehicles are prohibited.
The scooters have become popular around the state since they were introduced in the summer and are now in 50 cities across the country. City staff members told the Greensboro City Council in October that Bird dropped off 100 scooters around town in August and eventually distributed at least 450 scooters.
The e-scooters operate from 7 a.m. to sundown and are picked up nightly by individuals who are compensated by Bird to clean and recharge them.
A judge in Buncombe County previously ordered Bird to stop delivering the scooters in Asheville as it appears they do not comply with city regulations.
In late October, Bird scooters were dropped off in El Paso, Texas, where the city’s planning and inspections director instructed code enforcement officers to confiscate any Bird scooters they saw on the streets.
Another scooter operator, Lime, has taken a slightly more cautious approach. The company recently tested its scooters in Spokane, Wash., with permission from the city. The 73-day experiment showed that every street in Spokane saw scooter traffic.
Lime wants to return to the city as soon as possible, and city officials have made their support of the program clear. In the 73 days the bicycles and electric scooters plied the city streets, more than 35,000 people rode them. Over the course of nearly 150,000 rides, the people of Spokane rode the vehicles 128,000 miles.
An online survey about the program so far has garnered 2,079 responses. Three out of every four respondents said the ride-share program should be made permanent.
Suggestions from the Spokane test included the need for clearer instructions on where scooters can be ridden, whether helmets should be required and parking locations.
Spokane fire chief Brian Schaeffer said his department responded to just one incident involving a Lime scooter during the test.
In Winston-Salem, city manager Garrity said he expects the city to draft new ordinances and for Bird — and possibly other companies — to be back on the streets by springtime.