Saturday, February 24, 2024

Williamsburg City Council unanimously OKs e-scooters

Newport News City Council approved e-scooters in the city starting in December. (WYDaily/ File photo)
Williamsburg City Council approved e-scooters in the city. (WYDaily/ File photo)

The Williamsburg City Council on Thursday unanimously approved he proposed ordinances and regulations regarding the use of e-scooters in the city.

The entire discussion on the decision to amend the ordinance and accept the use of e-scooters in Williamsburg lasted at least a half hour.

E-scooters would be allowed in the city, if the vendor is approved, as early as May 2020.

Council feedback

The council was shown different examples of designated bike lanes, shared roadways, multi-use and roadways with no lanes and members asked questions and voiced their opinions about e-scooters.

City Manager Andrew Trivette wants to keep e-scooters out of heavy pedestrian areas such as downtown and the parts of the historic area.

He said there’s the possibility of incorporating geo-fencing technology which would not allow users to end their ride before finding a suitable parking spot. He also and compared it to a taxi, where the rider would continue to be charged until the driver found the suitable spot to drop off the passenger.

Councilman Benny Zhang asked if riders could be charged with a DUI and Christina Shelton, the city attorney said she doesn’t think so since e-scooters are not considered motor vehicles. She did say the e-scooter user could be charged with being drunk in public.

Councilman Ted Maslin asked if the e-scooter could be allowed in the historic triangle if the device could somehow be turned into a regular scooter. Shelton said no since there would be no way to tell if the e-scooter was being used electrically or as a regular scooter.

He also asked about potential lawsuits and city property, and Shelton said she would look into that.

Malsin asked what happens if e-scooters are parked on private property and Trivette said the person or property owner can complain to the vendor and the device can be picked up within the hour.

Mayor Paul Freiling asked if council could possibly change the e-scooter times in the future so people could use them on their way to work starting as early as 5 a.m. The idea can be revisited at a later time.

Screenshot of the sidewalks, shared use paths, existing bike lanes and proposed multi-use paths. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of the Williamsburg City Council ordinance documents)
Screenshot of the sidewalks, shared use paths, existing bike lanes and proposed multi-use paths. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of the Williamsburg City Council ordinance documents)

E-scooter rules

The e-scooters would have top speeds of 15 mph, would be parked in a solar docking station and vendors would enable GPS tracking technology and enable “slow zones”.

E-scooters could be parked in either a solar charging station, in a corral in certain areas of the city without chargers or parked in a dockless system.

Slower speeds may be imposed by the city manager at any time, including downtown and in specified areas near the historic area and during special events, according to the resolution pilot program document.

The e-scooters would not be allowed on sidewalks in the downtown area and can only be used on sidewalks with no bike lanes. Those younger than 14 years old would be required to wear a helmet and the devices cannot be rented between midnight and 7 a.m.

The College of William & Mary will make their own rules regarding the e-scooters on campus.

Other requirements of the e-scooter vendor would be providing four rider education workshops per year, two of which coincide with the college student semesters.

The vendor has to pay $5,000 licensing fee, $50 per unit and a ride fee of 50 cents. The units would be capped at 150.

And the city can discontinue the contract with vendor after 30 days.

As for establishing a low-income program with discounted rider, the specifics have not been determined.

This was not the first time City Council had discussed e-scooters.

At Nov. 12 work session, council members talked about e-scooters for nearly an hour with the possibility of implementing a shared use, three-year pilot program with one vendor.

At the time, several council members expressed concern about allowing the e-scooters to be parked and allowed on sidewalks.

“I’m not a big fan right now, unless someone else can convince me otherwise, of seeing e-scooters on sidewalks,” Frieling said at the time.

City Council voted on the ordinance regarding micro-mobility devices such as e-scooters because of the General Assembly’s amendment to the state code which requires localities to have regulations in place by Jan. 1, 2020.

RELATED STORY: Here’s what City Council discussed about e-scooters in Williamsburg

Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsiglianohttp://wydaily.com
Julia Marsigliano is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She covers everything on the Peninsula from local government and law enforcement agencies to family-run businesses and weather updates. Before WYDaily, she covered Hampton and Newport News for WYDaily’s sister publication, HNNDaily before both publications merged in December 2018. Julia was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. A true New Yorker, she loves pizza, bagels and good Chinese food. Send comments, tips and other tidbits to julia@localvoicemedia.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @jmarsigliano

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