Tucson says no to electric scooters a second time

No go for e-scooters

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - For the second time in a year, the Tucson City Council has said no to allowing electric scooters on its streets.

Called “shared mobility devices”, the scooters are the rage in many cities but Tucson has decided to take it slowly.

“We’re late adopters,” said Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild.

Last summer, council members approved an outright ban on the scooters following the lead of several other cities, such as New Orleans. Even the University of Arizona and Arizona state have implemented bans.

The fact the scooters are dockless makes them a potential nuisance. After they are used, they can be left anywhere, on sidewalks, in parks, leaning against trees, anywhere they stop.

The vote this time was to delay a proposed pilot program for four companies to put up to 500 scooters each on Tucson’s streets.

The pilot program would have permitted 2,000 scooters for six months with the possibility of extending it for another six months. The council told the city transportation department to come back in a month with a new, scaled down pilot program.

It also instructed the department to issue a “request for proposal” in order to insure companies would submit competitive bids.

Rather than four, it’s likely choosing two companies, at the highest bid, which would make the process more orderly and potentially more lucrative for the city.

Safety is an issue for most council members.

“I can’t see these things riding in the streets with traffic, with the streetcar, with pedestrians, with bikes, 15 miles an hour in those congested areas being anything more than a red flag,” said Ward 6 City Council Member Steve Kozachik. “An accident waiting to happen.”

Tucson’s Mayor issued his concerns as well saying many other cities have allowed their use “they’re well regulated but they can still be a mess."

The cost of enforcement is also a contributing factor in deciding to wait a bit longer and pare down the pilot program.

“If it becomes a nuisance on the sidewalks, then we need to make sure we’re looking at expenses to the department of transportation or to parks and rec or streets,” said Ward 1 Council Member Regina Romero. “We need to take a look at that.”

“I’ve seen them in other cities and I appreciate them," said Andy Bemis, in charge of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Program for the Department of Transportation. “I’ve seen the concerns as well so I think its worth taking the time to do a pilot so that we can evaluate how it works.”

Copyright 2019 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.