Texas Cities Looking at Tightening Regulations on Electric Scooters

Urban areas around Texas may turn to the Legislature in 2019 to approve statewide regulations governing the electric scooters which are proliferating across the state, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

"Its coming with the challenges of what we're seeing with people being injured riding these things," said Austin Police Chief Brian Manley, whose officers have had to deal with several people being seriously hurt in scooter related accidents just in the past couple of months.

There are now some 10,000 electric scooters on San Antonio streets.  A trip downtown will reveal dozens of scooters piled up at streetcorners, and others left in inconvenient places in the middle of sidewalks or in the entrances of hotels and restaurants.

The idea behind the scooters is, you register through an app on your phone, and when you want a scooter you simply get on, and you pay based on the amount of time you are riding, plus an unlocking fee.  When you're done, you simply leave the scooter at the end of your trip, for the next person to ride.

City officials have praised the scooters for providing 'the last mile' transportation to encourage people to take public transport, knowing they won't be stranded at the bus station far from their ultimate destination.  The scooters will even be part of the Connect SA transportation plan to be unveiled next year.

But Manley is raising concerns about safety.

"Austin, like many other progressive cities across the country, is realizing that this new transportation method, although it is allowing more people to get around a very congested downtown area, is coming with challenges," he said.

One proposal would be for the Legislature to require that scooter riders wear helmets.  Current state law does not allow cities to make that determination.  Another proposal which would require Legislative approval would be to set specific insurance requirements for scooters.  

Proposals being floated in San Antonio include designated parking spaces for scooters, so they don't clutter up not just the downtown, but neighborhoods as they gradually move out to places like the Medical Center and Alamo Heights.

The City of San Antonio recently instituted a six month test period for scooter regulations, including dictating where on the street and sidewalk they can operate, and forbidding scooters in places like Alamo Plaza.

So far, no measures have been introduced in the Legislature dealing with scooters.

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