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Pittsburgh City Council Gets Tough With Electric Scooters

New traffic rules could set age requirements, speed limits and require the popular e-scooters to be parked in designated locations. Introduced in July, the scooters have generated hundreds of complaints.

(TNS) — The city's traffic rules could be updated to reflect a new addition to Pittsburgh's streets: the ubiquitous electric scooters that have generated hundreds of complaints since the program's July launch.

An ordinance introduced Tuesday by the Peduto administration sets forth that users of the low-speed vehicles ridden while standing must be at least 18 years old, must not travel faster than 15 mph, and must only ride on streets with designated "pedacycle" lanes, or on streets with a maximum posted speed of 25 mph. The ordinance will bring the city's code in line with Pennsylvania's electric scooter ordinance passed in June, with stricter regulations on age and speed requirements.

Scooters also would be subject to parking regulations. The proposed ordinance would require the scooters to be parked perpendicular to the curb in a legal parking space, at a designated corral, or adjacent to a public bicycle rack.

"The legislation presented to City Council this morning reinforces what has been outlined in the state law and the [mayor's] executive order and includes the parking rules that have to date been enforced by Spin as posted on the website and provided to users on their app," said Molly Onufer, the mayor's spokeswoman. "The legislation is an opportunity to codify it all locally to reinforce enforcement for transparency."

The orange-and-black scooters now seen across multiple neighborhoods were introduced July 9 as part of the city's MovePGH program, which the administration touts as a way to increase transportation options while reducing carbon emissions.

As of Tuesday, 131,444 rides — the highest ridership is on Saturdays — had been recorded on the small vehicles, owned by San Francisco-based Spin company with which the city has a two-year pilot program.

However, the program has been accompanied by hundreds of complaints — 600 within the first seven weeks of the scooters' introduction — the majority concerning illegally parked scooters, including those in handicapped spaces and on sidewalks. In late August, a Twitter user posted a video of a user riding one in the Liberty Tunnels.

The MovePGH program, which employs the availability of mopeds, bike-sharing and scooters at various hubs around the city, was launched in tandem with the administration's "Universal Basic Mobility" program that gives up to 100 low-income residents transportation subscriptions.

"Transportation mobility is key to economic mobility and a major determinant in household health, education, and welfare. In Pittsburgh, too many residents are one missed bus or one flat tire away from losing their job or missing a critical appointment," Mayor Bill Peduto said at the time.

Scooter riders must download the smartphone app to use the Spin vehicles. Ten dollars is required on any account to begin riding, and users are charged $1, plus 39 cents per minute. A phone number is provided on the city's MovePGH website for those who don't have smartphones.

The administration's proposed ordinance also stipulates that riders using scooters on city streets may only operate those issued by a commercial scooter enterprise authorized by the city.

City Council is expected to discuss the legislation on Sept. 15.

(c)2021 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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