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Salt Lake City Council May Roll Forward With Scooter Solutions After Two Years

Photo of a sign that reads: Do not ride scooters on sidewalks.
Brian Albers
Under a proposed Salt Lake City ordinance, motorized scooters would continue to be banned from downtown sidewalks - among other regulations.

More than two years after shared electric scooters hit the streets of Salt Lake City, the city council could vote Tuesday night to finalize a permanent ordinance to regulate them. 

The proposed legislation lays out a list of rules for the scooters. It bans them from being parked in certain areas — like within 15 feet of a building entrance — and requires the companies to have four different types of insurance. 

The city currently has a temporary permit system with similar requirements, Transportation Division Director Jon Larsen said.

But, Larsen said because the proposed ordinance allows them to set up a contract system, companies will be more likely to follow those rules to ensure they can keep doing business in Salt Lake. 

“That will be a game changer,” he said. “Because now we've changed the structure to incentivize the best behavior out of them. If there's only one or two vendors and one vendor — if they start falling behind the other vendor on compliance — now they risk not being able to re-up their contract.”

Larsen said there are currently four companies operating scooters in Salt Lake City: Bird, Lime, Spin and Link.

“Bird supports the city in moving towards a permit for shared scooters and making them a permanent fixture in the infrastructure of Salt Lake City,” the company’s Government Partnerships Senior Manager Arthur Ortegon said in a statement. “Bird is committed to continuing to partner on key issues like rider safety and equity.”

Lime’s Mackenzie Viau said the company believes “these measures will help to improve access to sustainable, convenient and affordable open-air transportation options.”

Here is a list of proposed regulations in the ordinance: 

  • Each company must have four different types of insurance: general liability, automobile, excess liability, and workers’ compensation. 
  • Dockless electric shared scooters need to have:
    • Two ways to brake
    • A bell or “other audible signal device”
    • A GPS system
  • Dockless shared electric scooters must be inspected every 30 days and companies need to give the city a list of all their scooters
  • Scooters can’t be parked where they “impede the … free flow of pedestrians and traffic.” That includes:
    • Any multi-use path
    • Parking spaces for vehicles
    • Trax or Frontrunner platforms
    • Within 15 feet of a building access or driveway
    • Within 30 feet of an ADA ramp or other ADA access point
    • Within 10 feet of Utah Transit Authority bus stop signs
    • Within 15 feet of a utility box
    • Within 15 feet of a “traffic signal pole”
  • Scooters can’t be ridden on a sidewalk where bikes are banned — that’s downtown sidewalks from North Temple to 500 South and from 400 West and 200 East. 

Sonja Hutson covers politics for KUER. Follow Sonja on Twitter @SonjaHutson

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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