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Fort Wayne City Council to address new bill that would add regulations to motorized scooters

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) - Council members of the Fort Wayne City Council are expected to address a bill that would add additional regulations to motorized scooters, including the popular VeoRide scooters in downtown Fort Wayne.

Fort Wayne city officials said there were 110,000 unique riders, 200,000 different rides, and 350,000 miles ridden last year.

VeoRide has a permit with the City of Fort Wayne as part of an ongoing pilot program created to test the viability of electric scooters, officials said. The City of Fort Wayne decided to extend the pilot program for an additional year to further test and improve the system without the complications of a pandemic, city leaders added.

No tax dollars support the program, and VeoRide is responsible for all equipment and liability.

An official with the Fort Wayne Police Department told Fort Wayne's NBC News that officers would often get complaints about people riding the scooters dangerously. He said the bill would help officers address the complaints.

"I've gotten complaints. Downtown patrol has gotten complaints. There's nothing we can do about it because that's not against the law. The bill is created to at least give the officers a tool that, hey if I have a complaint about this dangerous behavior, then I can actually do something to stop them," said Sgt. Benjamin Messick, Fort Wayne Police Department.

Officials with the City of Fort Wayne shared the details around Bill Number G-21-04-18.

The ordinance has several new regulations on motorized scooters, including the following:

  • Age requirement
  • Special events
  • Operations of motorized scooters
  • Riding near pedestrians
  • No animals permitted
  • Single rider permitted
  • Removal of dockless vehicles
  • Penalties

AGE REQUIREMENT:

  • No person under the age of eighteen will be allowed to rent or operate a motorized scooter.

SPECIAL EVENTS:

  • No person will be allowed to operate a motorized scooter within the designated boundaries of a special event for which a special event permit has been obtained.

OPERATIONS OF MOTORIZED SCOOTERS:

  • Every person riding a motorized scooter on a street will be granted all of the rights and will be responsible for all duties applicable to a driver of a vehicle. Every person riding a motorized scooter on a sidewalk will be granted all of the rights and will be responsible to all duties applicable to a pedestrian.
  • A rider of a motorized scooter will not overtake standing vehicles in a travel lane.

RIDING NEAR PEDESTRIANS:

  • A rider of a motorized scooter on a sidewalk, multi-use path, multi-use trial, and on a crosswalk must yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian.
  • A rider of a motorized scooter must give at least three feet of space when passing a pedestrian. If the rider is unable to do so, the rider must stop, dismount, or exit the facility.
  • A rider of a motorized scooter must give a warning before passing any pedestrian while traveling the same direction.

NO ANIMALS PERMITTED:

  • No person will be allowed to ride a motorized scooter while controlling an animal, whether it's by hand, leash, or any other method.

SINGLE RIDER:

  • It is a violation for more than one person to be on a motorized scooter at one time.

REMOVAL OF DOCKLESS VEHICLES:

  • If the City finds a dockless motorized scooter on any sidewalk, alley, street, highway, or any other public place within the city, the City may immediately remove the dockless vehicle to a suitable place of impoundment.

** DOCKLESS MOBILITY SYSTEM. A shared mobility system or service that provides dockless vehicles for short-term rentals for point-to-point trips that is permitted to operate in the City, comprised of devices for the purpose of transportation or conveyance.

PENALTIES:

  • If a person(s) violates the rules, they can be fined from $50 - $2,500.

Fort Wayne's NBC News drove around downtown to talk with people about the new bill.

Alex Hall and Branden Shank said they want people to be safe, however, they believe the ordinance would create more issues.

"A lot more people are going to be angry about the fees or the fines...It's going to come with backlash," said Hall.

"It's going to shut it down," said Shank. "People will have to walk again. It's not going to be good."

Racheal Heath said the scooters help attract more people to downtown, which can help local businesses. She said she's worried that the new rules would discourage people from riding.

"These (VeoRides) were put here so we could enjoy the new stuff," said Heath. "You spend all this money on this city, and this (VeoRides) makes it easier to get around to it."

However, other people shared different opinions on the additional regulations with Fort Wayne's NBC News.

Robert Carter said he enjoys the scooters and believes it can help many people, who do not have cars, get to work. However, he said he has seen several kids riding them recklessly, and believes the ordinance can help keep people safe.

"If people aren't responsible with them, they need consequences or something," said Carter. "And that would deter people from doing stupid things."

Fort Wayne's NBC News talked with Councilmen Geoff Paddock and Russ Jehl about the bill.

Councilman Russ Jehl said he believes the motorized scooters are dangerous, and are damaging downtown Fort Wayne. He said he supports the bill, and believes it can help improve downtown.

"Regulating them (motorized scooters) and trying to bring some order, and some element of safety is very important," said Councilman Russ Jehl, (R) Fort Wayne City Council. "And I'm glad the very least, we're taking those steps."

Councilman Geoff Paddock said he believes the scooters can help by providing affordable and environmentally-friendly transportation for residents. However, he said the ordinance can promote the importance of traffic safety for drivers, pedestrians, and those who ride the scooters.

"I think it's a good step forward, and we will be certainly examining this over the next couple of weeks to see what the bill says, and what it might do," said Councilman Geoff Paddock, (D) Fort Wayne City Council.

An official with the City of Fort Wayne told Fort Wayne's NBC News that City Council was originally going to address the ordinance during next week's City Council meeting, however, the ordinance will likely be delayed until the following week.

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Louie Tran

Louie Tran is the weekend anchor for Fort Wayne’s NBC at 6 and 11pm and a weekday general assignment reporter. To share story ideas, please email him at ltran@wpta21.com.

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