The time to Clear the [e-scooter] Clutter is now!

Hey, Atlanta: Clear the [e-scooter] Clutter!

Electric scooters are a fun, convenient way to get around, and they have great potential for reducing the number of car trips in Atlanta. But for people who walk, e-scooters are often a safety hazard and a nuisance.

The ordinance Atlanta approved in January 2019 banned users from riding on or blocking sidewalks. Despite that, little has changed.

Harness the power of crowdsourcing.

In April, PEDS launched Clear the Clutter, a crowdsourcing campaign that made it easy for people to report e-scooters that block sidewalks or endanger people who are walking.

During a 30-day period, people used the app to upload over 1,500 photos of scooter violations. This is more than five times as many reports as scooter companies and ATL311 received in three months.

We’re grateful to Jordan Streiff, who developed and fine-tuned the reporting tool. And we’re eager for the City of Atlanta to develop and use a similar tool to harness the power of crowdsourcing.

Photos confirm that e-scooter use is out of control.

Zoom in to see locations where e-scooter violations are especially high.

App Credit- Jordan Streiff, WeDemandBetter 

Asking people to Scoot Smart is not enough.

PEDS applauds the City of Atlanta for launching its Scoot Smart campaign. We also commend the City for providing flyers to police officers that clarify which behaviors are illegal.

Without vigorous enforcement and consistent penalties, however, the campaign is unlikely to put an end to haphazard parking or riding scooters on sidewalks.

People with even a bit of common courtesy already know they shouldn’t leave scooters in the middle of a sidewalk. For change to happen, riders need to feel it in their pocketbook.

The City of Atlanta urges people to report violations to Atlanta 311 and the e-scooter companies. It’s unlikely, however, that scooter companies will respond soon enough. A complaint-based system is especially unfair to people with disabilities.

It’s unrealistic, however, to expect the Atlanta Police Department to devote sufficient resources to provide effective enforcement. Given that, we urge Atlanta to require companies to play a larger role in penalizing violators.

Other cities are doing more to rein in e-scooters. Atlanta must as well.

San Francisco

"Lock-to" device attaches e-scooter to parking rack
  • Requires companies to furnish built-in locks, which deter theft and vandalism and help ensure that parked e-scooters don’t topple or block sidewalks.
  • Prohibits parking e-scooters on sidewalks that are less than 9 feet wide.
  • Charges companies a $25 fee for violations.

Indianapolis

  • Police stepped up enforcement to keep people from riding e-scooters on sidewalks.
  • City can issue a $25 fine to companies if an e-scooter is left in a prohibited area.
  • Bills companies $1 per day per scooter to pay for infrastructure and enforcement.

Santa Monica

In-street parking corrals for e-scooters and LIT lanes installed in Santa Monica
  • Installed 100 sidewalk and in-street parking corrals as drop zones for e-scooters and e-bikes.

Nashville

  • Companies use mobile apps or other means to fine riders for illegall parking or operating e-scooters, with fines ranging from $10 – $25.
  • Mayor David Briley issued a 30 day order to scooter companies: Get your act together or get out.

PEDS urges the City of Atlanta to take action!

1. Tighten parking restrictions and clarify user rules.

Atlanta requires scooters parked on sidewalks to “afford the least obstruction of pedestrian traffic and provide a minimum of 5 feet clear for pedestrians.”

This makes parking on narrow sidewalks illegal. It also bars parking in ways that create tripping hazards or obstacle courses.

Yet such violations are common. To change that, Atlanta must also:

2 e-scooters parked on narrow sidewalk
  • Prohibit parking in the pedestrian through zone on streets that have 3 feet or wider furniture zones.
  • Prohibit parking on sidewalks that are less than 8 feet wide or on trails.
  • Monitor locations where “chargers” set up scooters between 6 – 8 a.m. and impound vehicles that are parked incorrectly.

2. Set clear and reasonable fines and establish a minimum age limit for riding e-scooters.

Child riding e-scooter

Atlanta’s penalties include fines up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail.

This is unreasonable and will discourage enforcement. Atlanta should instead:

  • Set specific fines, such as $25 for riding on sidewalks or blocking sidewalks, trails, or curb ramps.
  • Issue stiffer fines for second and third offenses.

3. Require e-scooter companies to offer incentives and penalize violators.

  • Encourage incentives for correct parking, such as discounts on next ride.
  • Require companies to issue fines to riders for parking violations.

4. Provide infrastructure that helps prevent parking and riding violations.

  • Provide parking corrals, scooter racks, and other facilities.
  • Require companies to furnish “lock-to” or “latch-to” devices that prevent toppling.
  • Make riding in the road safer by converting travel or parking lanes to Light Individual Travel (LIT) lanes that can be shared by e-scooters, bicycles, and other micro-mobility devices.

5. Provide an app that makes it easy to report violations to all companies and that enables City officials to monitor follow-through on corrections.

6. Set deadline for companies to develop and implement technological solutions.

  • Create “red zones” that limit people from parking in specified areas.
  • Use geo-fencing to Create zones where riding above a specified speed limit is impossible.

People who walk demand solutions.

Near misses with people riding e-scooters on sidewalks have become a dangerous and stressful fact of life for people who walk in Atlanta.

Narrow sidewalks cannot accommodate parking. Yet many riders and “chargers” overlook the needs of others and do so anyway.

Parked e-scooters and e-bikes often block trails, bus stops, and desire lines.

Blocked curb ramps deny access to people with disabilities.

Toppled e-scooters create tripping hazards, block sidewalks, and form barriers to people with disabilities. They’re also an eyesore.

Sidewalks are for walking. The time to Clear the Clutter is now!