Mobility needs don't end at 9 PM

The City of Atlanta announced a temporary nighttime ban on permitted e-bikes & e-scooters as of Friday, August 9th. A citywide No Ride Zone will be in effect from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. daily, in response to the recent fatal scooter/motor vehicle crashes. The announcement noted that all four crashes occurred "after sunset."

But the sun doesn't set on people's mobility needs, and last-mile connectivity isn't limited to daytime hours. 

The nighttime ban will be welcomed by many in the public who feel scooters are out of control and demanded the City of Atlanta take action, any action. We previously identified the tangible safety measures we believe will lead to safer streets for all and remain hopeful our recommendations are being considered. 

But a nighttime ban will disproportionately affect third-shift and service industry workers who rely on e-bikes and scooters to get home after dark. Often, their shifts end after MARTA has stopped running for the night around 1 a.m. 

The nighttime ban includes sharable e-bikes, which have not experienced any fatal crashes reported. This is likely due to legal concerns about differentiating between scooters and bikes. They are both covered by the same permitting process.

We are asking the City of Atlanta to exempt e-bikes from the nighttime ban, to prevent people who need to get somewhere after 9 p.m. from being stranded. This measure would address these unintended negative consequences. 

In the same statement, the City of Atlanta indicated "Simultaneously, there are additional measures the administration is swiftly pursuing to ensure road safety, including but not limited to: "An accelerated plan for changes to our streets creating safer, dedicated spaces for cyclists and scooter riders."

We commend Mayor Bottoms for this commitment and anxiously await further details. 

The majority of people dying on our streets, whether during day or night, are inside of cars, yet the double standard that applies to driving in the U.S. stands firm. Cars and trucks are not being considered for a nighttime driving ban. Light trucks and SUVs are more likely than sedans to kill people walking, biking, or scooting, yet there is no talk of banning SUVs and light trucks from our streets. Also, we'd like to note that all the concerns being expressed about how some riders are operating scooters -- going too fast on sidewalks, not obeying traffic laws, etc. -- are the same ones we've heard for years about bike riders, and have successfully addressed through our safety classes. 

The City further noted it is working towards "...a revised selection process that will allow the City to choose a limited number of dockless vendors and enable the City to work in partnership with the selected vendors to run a safer, more orderly dockless system. The expected selection process is anticipated to be completed by February 2020."

We ask consideration be given to a policy being explored in Washington, D.C., where a proposed bill includes speed limits for scooters based on whether they are on the road or the sidewalk. 

The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition wishes to reaffirm its support for shared micromobility. Shared e-bikes and e-scooters are legitimate, sustainable transportation options that can reduce car trips, close first- and last-mile gaps, and connect communities that lack access to reliable transportation. These goals overlap with Atlanta’s Transportation Plan, which was approved by City Council last year.