A pilot program allowing electric scooters on Charlotte streets is continuing through October, when city officials say they'll evaluate how it's working. On Monday, city council member Larken Egleston warned that some users are behaving dangerously and said he doesn't think the city should wait to talk about new rules.
Egleston said he's speaking out because he saw people riding scooters the other day on the Interstate 277 loop near uptown.
"Someone will die on an e-scooter before the end of this calendar year," he said at the end of the council's dinner meeting Monday. "We can't completely prevent stupidity. But I saw something Friday I don't think I even imagined, which was two people riding scooters on 277."
"I wish that was a joke," he added. "I'm dead serious, and they obviously weren't wearing helmets. No one's wearing helmets on these. Someone's going to die on one."
The city said for now, electric scooters — or e-scooters — can be ridden on sidewalks, except in congested business districts, and on streets elsewhere. Riders are supposed to follow traffic laws and, the city said, are encouraged to wear helmets. All that could change at the end of the pilot program.
Safety is becoming an issue as more Charlotteans use scooters. After just two months, they're now more popular than dockless bikes, which are also part of the city's "Shared Mobility" pilot program. In July, people took more than 100,000 scooter trips, averaging about 1.4 miles per trip, according to the Charlotte Department of Transportation. At the same time, there were only about 27,000 bicycle trips, averaging three-quarters of a mile per trip.
"We've got to be ready, if not before the end of the pilot program, at the end of the program," Egleston said. "We need to have something that we can put in place quickly to say these are the rules that people are going to operate under."
Egleston said he wonders if the city can require helmets, when it will begin enforcing the ban on riding scooters on sidewalks, and whether the should outlow scooters on roads with speed limits over 35 miles per hour.
In Charlotte, two companies currently offer the scooters, which are unlocked by payments made through smartphone apps. Users can find and leave them in public areas along city streets.
Egleston said he supports scooter and bike sharing, but he'd like to see some rules enacted as soon as possible.
The council is expected to get a briefing as the bike and scooter pilots end.
Charlotte DOT web page on the shared scooter program, charlottenc.gov