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Charlotte Rules Would Mandate Scooters For Low-Income Neighborhoods

People ride scooters on a sidewalk in uptown Charlotte at lunch hour in June.
David Boraks

The city of Charlotte unveiled proposed rules for e-scooters Monday night, which include a prohibition on people riding the scooters on some uptown sidewalks and a requirement that scooter companies deploy some of their scooters in low-income neighborhoods.

In addition, scooters can't be ridden faster than 15 m.p.h. The city also said it would prohibit people from riding scooters in streets where the speed limit is more than 35 m.p.h.

Dan Gallagher of the Charlotte Department of Transportation said the city wants the scooters to thrive, in part because the city believes they can help solve what's known as the "first mile-last mile" problem in transit.

The city wants to make sure that the scooters aren't just concentrated in affluent areas like South End and uptown. The proposal would require scooter companies to place 20 percent of their fleet in low-income areas, though officials haven't yet determined where those areas would be.

Council members are scheduled to vote on the regulations Jan. 14.

Charlotte's e-scooter use peaked in August, with a little more than 142,000 trips for an average of 6.1 trips a day for each scooter. The city said the average trip length was 1.4 miles.

Right now, the companies Lime and Bird each have 400 scooters, and the company Spin is replacing its bikes with scooters.

The proposal would allow each company 300 scooters. If the companies demonstrate their scooter fleet is being used frequently - more than three trips per day - they can get permission for additional scooters.

Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.