The great debate over dockless electric scooters has rolled into Kennesaw as council members held their first discussion on the issue during Monday’s meeting.
City Manager Jeff Drobney raised the subject during the work session on the heels of four e-scooter related deaths in Atlanta. All four victims were riding at night or early morning and struck by vehicles. Subsequently, Atlanta has banned them between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m., requiring the companies that operate them to disable the vehicles for those hours.
The proliferation of these devices in cities all over the country has led some metro area cities to create preemptive total bans, including Alpharetta, Marietta, Woodstock and Smyrna.
Lilburn and Snellville have passed 12-month bans while they consider how to regulate them. Other cities, such as Brookhaven and Decatur, are allowing them to operate while regulating the number of scooter companies, parking locations and helmet use.
Monday’s council discussion was a first step in determining the city’s approach to the vehicles.
Council member Chris Henderson works on Georgia Tech’s campus, where he sees scooters in action regularly.
“One thing that Tech’s campus has going for it is the large green areas and large, very oversized pedestrian roadways, so there’s room for people to get around each other. We don’t really have that here. We have actual roads with cars,” he said.
Council member David Blinkhorn added, “There’s a place for them and it needs to be regulated. I was in Atlanta this weekend and they’re everywhere. They are abused as well as they are used appropriately.”
Blinkhorn also mentioned concerns about who bears liability in case of an accident, an issue that has been contested by riders and scooter companies, as well as the fact that they are often left lying in unsafe locations and blocking pedestrian walkways.
“I have a couple thoughts on it, and the primary one is the whole idea of the fact that we’re building a pedestrian-friendly downtown,” said council member James “Doc” Eaton. “I don’t want to have to be dodging scooters. I’m getting older. I’m not as quick and reactive as I used to be and I’m not the only member of that population in this community.”
Council member Tracey Viars indicated she’d likely prefer to regulate the scooters than outright ban them, while Pat Ferris indicated he was in favor of a ban within city limits.
Drobney said the city will study how other municipalities are handling the issue in order to make a decision.
In other business:
♦ City clerk Debra Taylor recommended approval of an update to the city’s master fee schedule. Once approved it will reflect the addition of small cell charges in accordance with House Bill 184, updated fees for cremations and memorial trees, large group fees for student groups touring the museum and a convenience fee for paying property taxes with a credit card.
♦ Prior to the regular work session, the city held its first public hearing on the proposed resolution to adopt the maintenance and operation millage rate of 8 mills and 1.5 mills to fund the debt service on the $15 million recreation and traffic safety bonds. The floor was opened for public comments, but there were none. The second and third public hearings will take place on Aug. 19 at 10:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.