Hundreds of people surveyed about electric scooters support strong regulations and enforcement to keep riders, drivers, and pedestrians safe.
Downtown Living Advocates received nearly 2,000 responses to a poll in less than a week, following the Raleigh City Council’s decision to allow the California-based scooter company Bird to continue to operate while the city reviews possible policies.
“There was a lot of conversation around the scooters and we wanted to make sure that we got the right message from all downtown residents, workers, and visitors to get their proper opinion of the scooters, and to give that feedback to the council,” said Leo Suarez of Downtown Living Advocates.
“A majority of people favor the scooters. When it comes to regulations, only 5 percent wanted them completely banned. A majority of people want to see them work … and a large majority want to see some kind of regulation to protect access and safety.”
Suarez said the biggest issue among the poll’s participants is users riding scooters on sidewalks. The online user agreement and text on the scooters states “No Riding on Sidewalks” but many riders ignore the warnings.
Perry Gagne went to Tuesday’s city council meeting to urge the elected leaders to speed up decision regarding rules for the scooters.
“They seem to be taking their sweet little time,” Gagne said. “These companies are taking advantage of how slow city governments can be.”
Gagne lives and works in downtown Raleigh, and he said his preferred means of travel is walking. He said multiple riders have come close to running into him on the sidewalk.
He hopes there will be some sort of signage in heavily trafficked areas to remind riders they should be in the road and not on the sidewalks. He also wants the city to start issuing citations to riders who disobey the other requirements posted by the company.
“Nobody has helmets. I’ve seen a lot of people blow through stop signs, blow through pedestrian intersections. People come the wrong way down the road, driving the wrong way down the road,” Gagne said.
The DLA survey did not seek comments about how violators should be penalized, but Suarez said there was a consensus that there need to be penalties.
“We do want to see people held accountable for whether they’re breaking the rules, whether they’re riding on the sidewalks or putting people at risk (in other ways). The majority of people want to see some enforcement of the laws that are already in place,” Suarez said.
Raleigh’s director of transportation, Michael Moore, said his team is working with the city attorney’s office on a set of proposed regulations.
Raleigh City Council Member Nicole Stewart expressed gratitude for the survey organizers and participants during the council’s Tuesday afternoon session.
She said she appreciates everyone who provides input about the scooters, and also acknowledged that the city leadership is requiring people to wait.
“I’m excited to see what staff brings forward in a couple of weeks, but just thanks to folks who are providing input in the meantime and being super patient,” Stewart said.
“What the survey did was say people are excited, but they also want safety policies in place, and that’s exactly what our city staff will come back with is a way we can move forward and address safety at the same time.”
Stewart said other cities have come up with creative ideas for reminding riders about the rules. These include using chalk on sidewalks and basic notes such as printed paper attached to a scooter with a rubber band.
Stewart said the scooter company needs to take responsibility for this instead of the city.
“I think Bird should, actually. It’s their resources. It’s their technology. Let’s encourage them to kind of do the right thing and making sure that we’re getting the word out as much as possible,” she said.