City of Burlington explores bringing e-scooters

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) The Burlington City Council is currently discussing the possibility of allowing e-scooters in public places. It comes after a pilot project last fall in Montpelier was scrapped.

Bird rideshare electric scooters | Photo Credit: Grendelkhan / Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 4.0 / MGN

Councilor Max Tracy says council members have a few safety concerns to address before approving the proposal. He says they are working to regulate where the scooters will be parked, where riders can ride and how the city will enforce these rules.

"We really need to make sure we have a safety protocol in place," Tracy said. "To behave in terms of traffic and the flow of traffic to make sure everyone is safe."

According to Tracy, the council is still deciding if scooters will be allowed on the bike lanes or streets. WCAX News was told they’ve already concluded that riders cannot go on the sidewalks.

"That’s a crucial aspect. We have to understand and develop some accountability around what if someone does ride on the sidewalk? What does that look like? How do we make sure that folks are really doing that?" Tracy said.

The City Council will vote on the issue on June 3. They will also meet with the Transportation Committee next week to discuss safety concerns.

Tracy says that if the city gets approval from the state, the program will be launched in 90 days. That would put the start date around the beginning of September. Tracy says summer is the ideal time to introduce the scooters, but it raises another potential hazard: drinking while riding.

"In particular, I’m concerned about students-- especially with the late August launch-- coming in, maybe not having used these before, going out and then using these while drunk or using them in groups while drunk," said Tracy. "It will not be a success in my mind if people are getting hurt."

Tracy says the city is still selecting sites to install docks for people to park their scooters.

A trial of the scooters in Montpelier last fall ended after an early snowfall and the vendor determined the seasonal effort was not financially feasible. The scooter program also faced safety concerns from residents and state lawmakers.