The Salt Lake City Council will listen to public comment on a proposed ordinance curbing use of electronic scooters. The comment period is scheduled toward the beginning of its regular formal meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
The scooters, or “dockless shared mobility devices,” have spurred public debate since they hit city streets and sidewalks in July 2018. Under the ordinance, scooters wouldn’t be allowed to be left in vehicle parking spots, within 15 feet of building entrances, near ADA ramps or on TRAX and FrontRunner platforms. They also would not be allowed to park within 10 feet of UTA bus signs, within 15 feet of traffic signal poles or within 15 feet of utility structures.
Drivers would need to take a photo or provide some other proof of where they leave their scooters to demonstrate they’ve followed the rules.
The scooter companies would also need carry insurance and to inspect the devices for safety every 30 days, removing scooters that could be dangerous.
Rather than a free-for-all, where any company can provide shared scooters as long as they have a business license, the ordinance could enable officials to limit the number of shared e-scooter providers in the city. In meetings, City Council and staff have discussed limiting that number of companies to two.
Those companies would likely need to submit proposals during a competitive process and explain how they would enforce safety and keep users off sidewalks where such use is not allowed.
The Utah Legislature passed a bill in 2019 that regulates scooters similarly to bicycles. That means if a bicycle isn’t allowed on a sidewalk, as is the case in the downtown Salt Lake City area, then a scooter can be prohibited in those areas as well.
E-scooter companies currently only pay a few hundred dollars for a business license in order to operate in Salt Lake City. Although not specified in the ordinance, the City Council is mulling a fee for the companies, possibly $100 or more for each device, in order to build designated corrals to park the scooters and to create a position overseeing the city’s e-scooter program.
The city could also use the fees to pay for a third party to enforce e-scooter rules.
The City Council will host a second public comment hearing on the e-scooter ordinance on Tuesday, Aug. 11. Council members are tentatively scheduled to vote on the ordinance that evening.