curbs on rental scooters

Scottsdale City Council has put some curbs on rental scooters and bicycles that riders leave strewn along sidewalks in both residential and commercial districts with abandon.

Scottsdale has adopted new regulations governing bikeshare and scootershare programs in order to address sidewalk clutter and safety issues that have cropped up since the companies came to town in recent years.

Rather than discouraging companies from expanding to Scottsdale, it appears the regulations will have the opposite effect.

Scottsdale is already home to Bird Scooters, the black electric standup scooters that can be seen whizzing around Old Town and other neighborhoods.

Sam Dreiman, a representative of Lime, said his company worked closely with the city in crafting the ordinance and that he supported it.

Lime has operated a bikeshare program in Scottsdale since last year and recently brought scooters to the city as well.

Taylor Strand represents Razor Scooters, which does not currently operate in Scottsdale, and said she “unequivocally supports” the regulatory framework Scottsdale put in place.

Strand said that Razor appreciated the open lines of communication city staff kept with her company and that Razor looks forward to coming to Scottsdale in the future.

The Council adopted new rules on Nov. 13 that regulate bicycles, electric bicycles and what the city calls “dockless electric mini-scooters.”

Representatives from the offices of the City Manager, City Attorney, Police Department and Transportation Department worked on the ordinance, which initially only focused on traditional bicycles, bicycle parking and updating old language.

However, the emergence of new technologies caused the city to expand the scope of the ordinance to include electric bikes, scooters and other new modes of transportation.

The ordinance requires that devices are operable and used, and prohibits owners from leaving any bike, electric bike or scooter in the same place on public property for 72 hours. Devices must also be picked up within two hours of owners being notified they are inoperable.

“A concern was that devices were parked for long periods of time without moving,” Assistant City Manager Brent Stockwell told City Council. “In addition, bikes had missing seats, brakes or broken wheels that rendered them inoperable and they were left for long periods of time.”

The new ordinance prohibits more than five vehicles owned by the same company or owner from parking within 200 feet of each other.

Violations could result in impound and a fine between $50 and $1,000 depending on the number of violations.

The new ordinance allows scooter riders to make use of sidewalks and multi-use paths. They can also ride on streets where the speed limit is 35 mph or below.

While in the roadway, scooter operators are subject to all traffic laws that apply to other vehicles.

Similarly, the ordinance allows Class 1 and Class 2 electric bikes – which can operate up to 20 mph – on sidewalks and multi-use paths. Class 3 bikes, which have higher top speeds, would only be allowed on roadways.

Scottsdale Transportation Director Paul Basha said the city considered banning scooters from multiuse paths but that staff ultimately decided it would be too difficult for riders to tell the difference between the two in areas that have a sidewalk on one side of the street and a multiuse path on the other.

“It would be asking a bit too much of an operator of an electric mini-scooter to distinguish the difference between the 10-foot concrete on the north side and the 5 feet of concrete on the south side,” he said at a Transportation Commission meeting on the subject.

Under the new rules, the Scottsdale Police Department can cite operators for reckless driving or traveling at a speed greater than an officer deems reasonable or prudent.

Bike, electric bike and scooter operators also must yield to pedestrians and other vehicles when entering or exiting driveways.

A sizable piece of the new ordinance addresses parking, which has become a major issue in Scottsdale since dockless bikeshare – and now scootershare – companies came to town, resulting in bikes left on sidewalks, in front of businesses and in neighborhoods throughout the city.

At the Nov. 13 Council meeting, Stockwell said owners are responsible for making sure devices are properly parked. Under the ordinance, owners include the legal title owners and those that lease the devices for personal use.

The new ordinance bans parking on private property without permission of the property owners, with some exceptions.

Multifamily properties and non-residential spaces open to public use, like restaurants and retail shops, would still be open for parking, Basha said.

“In the (ordinance), devices should be parked in a rack, designated parking areas or any other place that it is not otherwise prohibited,” Stockwell said.

The ordinance does not restrict parking in public spaces strictly to bike racks, because the city simply does not have enough to accommodate all riders, Basha said.

“We believed if we were to limit parking to only those designated parking spaces, we would in fact be constraining bicycle use throughout Scottsdale…” he said.

However, the ordinance does contain 15 explicit public areas where bike and scooter parking is restricted, including medians, crosswalks and on sidewalks obstructing pedestrian through zones.