Harrisonburg City Council moving forward with motorized scooter regulations

By  | 

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — "Bird" scooters landed in the City of Harrisonburg back in October, and they brought controversy with them.

"Lime" scooters rolled in soon after, and the city is now trying to regulate the motorized devices.

On Tuesday, Harrisonburg City Council voted to approve going forward with an ordinance to regulate the motorized vehicles.

There were six total amendments proposed at Tuesday's City Council meeting.

Chris Brown, the Harrisonburg City Attorney, said he's met with representatives of "Bird" and "Lime" scooters to create better guidelines for everyone.

Under state code, motorized scooters are treated as vehicles on or off the street.

"Bicycles are prohibited in the downtown area, but are allowed on sidewalks outside of the downtown area," said Brown. "Our first proposal is to treat the scooters like that."

That ordinance would eliminate the scooters from being ridden on sidewalks in downtown areas; another would stop them from parking there.

"In the city, the city controls the sidewalks. If you want to put any goods, vehicles, or anything else on the sidewalk for any purpose that's not open to the general public, you need the city's permission to do that," said Brown.

Harrisonburg has been in contact with "Bird" and "Lime" about creating parking permits, and is working to find places to park the motorized scooters that would be out of the way.

"Provide some penalty if the sidewalks are used improperly. Namely, that the scooter, or whatever else would be put on the sidewalk illegally, can be impounded by the police department or the department of public works, and there would be a fine and a payment to retrieve those items," said Brown.

Other proposed ordinances require anyone under the age of 14 to wear a helmet on a motorized scooter and limiting each scooter to one rider.

Since the scooter companies require a driver's license to use the app required to operate them, users of the scooters have to be at least 16.

The city will continue to talk with scooter companies and work on finalizing the ordinance, then council will come back early next year to discuss the ordinance more.