(TNS) – A bill that would allow the use of motorized scooters on the streets of Charleston is making its way through City Council.
The council’s public safety committee approved a version of Bill no. 7956, allowing the use of scooters and adding requirements and prohibitions for their use.
City code currently prohibits the use of motorized scooters except for government use or along a parade route designated by a registered parade participant.
Councilman Emmett Pepper, the bill’s lead sponsor, said the code banning motorized scooters was not enforced and scooters were becoming more popular.
“People are riding electric scooters, and it’s becoming more and more popular, and it’s currently illegal,” Pepper said. “I think we just need to modernize the code to do something that’s popular and broadly acceptable and to be allowed and also to have security precautions and guidance for people to make them work safely.”
Council members Chad Robinson, Bobby Reishman, Caitlin Cook, Bruce King, Brent Burton and Joseph Jenkins are also sponsors of the bill.
Permitting motorized scooters could also allow scooter rental businesses, like the one that opened last year in St. Albans, to open in Charleston. A scooter rental business would require more discussion, Pepper said, “but it has to be legal before they even want to talk to us.”
The bill was approved by the council’s planning, streets and traffic committee at the end of last month. This committee made a provision that would have allowed the use of scooters on city sidewalks.
According to a version of the bill approved by the council’s public safety committee on Monday, motorized scooters would be banned from pavements and any road, path or other surface closed to bicycle traffic.
The bill would also require drivers of motorized scooters to be at least 16 years old and limit the speed of scooters on highways to 30 miles per hour.
Scooters used at night must be equipped with a series of lights and reflectors visible from certain distances.
It would also be illegal to leave a motorized scooter on its side on a sidewalk or other location where there is no adequate path for foot traffic. Driving a motorized scooter while impaired would also be illegal.
Pepper said the bill would be helpful, especially for people visiting the city.
“These little vehicles, which are becoming very popular, are the perfect way to get from a hotel downtown to look at the Capitol, and there will be a lot of people who want to do that but may not want to deal with it. a cab or an Uber or something, but hey, if there’s a scooter right there, maybe they’ll do a little ride around town,” Pepper said. “…So I think it will make everyone’s life a little bit better.”
The bill will then be voted on by the full city council.
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