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Pittsburgh City Council Gives Preliminary Approval To Scooter Regulations

e-scooter transportation electric.JPEG
Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
Under newly proposed regulations, scooters would be limited to 15 miles per hour within city limits -- and riders couldn't use or park them on sidewalks.

Pittsburgh City Council preliminarily passed legislation Wednesday morning that would require electric scooter riders to be 18 years old, travel no more than 15 miles per hour, and use roads with a speed limit of 25 miles per hour or less.

Supporters of the scooters say they give an option to people with limited transportation choices, since users do not need to be licensed drivers to ride the scooters, which can help them access bus stops and the light rail. But as scooters have become more common in the city this year, residents have complained about them being left on sidewalks and taking up parking spaces.

Councilor Anthony Coghill said they've been a nuisance to many other residents. He said he would like for the scooters to be used more recreationally than for actual transportation.

"To have them on the street taking up valuable parking spaces, for me, I think it's frustrating my constituents," Coghill said. "They're on sidewalks, they're laying down, I've moved a number of them ... ADA-accessible ramps are being blocked. So I'm not convinced they're used for the purpose of transportation for work."

But Karina Ricks, director of Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, said the scooters are making an impact in communities in and around Coghill's South Hills district.

"You are in a very topographically challenging district and we have seen through the data we're tracking ... where the trips are originating from and where they're going to," Ricks said to Coghill. "And we see a strong trip pattern to and from the busways and light-hat users do not need to be licensed drivers to use the scooters, which can be important to access bus stops and the light-rail lines up and down those hills: Beltzhoover, Allentown, Knoxville, Carrick as well."

The new legislation codifies a state regulation that passed this summer. However, the city's proposed rules are stricter than those at the state level. The state allows scooter users to be as young as 16 years old, and allows scooters can be used in areas with a speed limit of up to 35 miles per hour.

Ricks said the city has received about 800 complaints about scooters, and if residents want to report scooter misuse or illegal parking, to call the city's 3-1-1 line, or report it directly to Spin, the company which operates the scooters, at support@spin.pm or 1-888-249-9698.

Council's final vote on the rules is set to take place next week.

Born and raised in Birmingham, Ala., Ariel finally made a “big move” 45 minutes down the interstate to the University of Alabama where she studied Journalism and International Studies. During her time in college she interned with Tuscaloosa News, a daily newspaper in her college town. After college, she got her first job back in her hometown with Birmingham Times, a weekly where she served as reporter and editor. Ariel made an even bigger move to Pittsburgh and joined the 90.5 WESA family as digital producer. She is adjusting to experiencing actual cold weather.