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Rochester City Council Gives OK to Electric Scooters

July 22, 2019 10:58 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- There will soon be a new way to get around Rochester: Plans to bring electric scooters to the Med City are underway.

However, with heavy media coverage, including an investigation by "Consumer Reports" showing there were more than 1,500 scooter-involved accidents in the U.S. over the past year, some are reluctant. 

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Before council members took up the issue at Monday’s meeting, they opened the floor to the public.

“Although it's an experiment, I really think Council should do its due diligence and really investigate all the problems with it [electric scooters] which this company [Lime] has had in many, many cities,” said Barry Skolnick, a downtown resident and the only person to speak up during the public hearing. “The dangers to people, especially seniors and the elderly, are overwhelming.”

A few council members brought up questions and concerns of their own.

“I am concerned about sidewalks and how we have bikes on sidewalks; which they are not supposed to be, we are not enforcing that and having these [scooters] running up and down the sidewalks; I know they’re [scooter users] not supposed to [ride on the sidewalks] but who is going to be enforcing this? If it is going to be our police department, then will they have enough time to [enforce this]?” asked Councilman Shaun Palmer.

“Is there going to be a helmet requirement? Or is that left up to the individual?” asked Councilman Mark Bilderback.

Based on the current laws, scooter users must be at least 15 years old. They are required to ride on the roads, just like bicyclists. While helmets are recommended, they are not required. The scooters can reach up to 15 mph.

In an effort to reduce traffic and lower carbon emissions, several council members voiced their support.

“I think safely operated by people who are cognizant of their surroundings, these scooters can be as safe as other modes of transit that we allow on our roadways,” said Councilman Nick Campion.

“If we want to get all unsafe vehicles off the roads, we can start with cars because that's what kills the most people,” said Councilman Michael Wojcik.

Mayor Kim Norton reminded everyone who attended Monday’s meeting that based on the City’s ordinances, Lime Scooters can come to Rochester with or without Council’s permission.

The memorandum passed in a 5 - 2 vote.

We spoke with the general manager of Lime Minnesota to see why the company chose to include the city in its pilot program, even though it wasn’t required.

“We really want to bring scooters to a city that embraces the idea of scooters,” said Eric Kocaja. “The best way to do that is to have a true public/private relationship where we are both on the same page in order to achieve the best result in the pilot.”

About 100 Lime Scooters will be rolled out on Aug. 1 for the three-month pilot. They cost $1 to unlock, and cents per minute thereafter.

Lime representatives will be holding a demonstration next week to show people how to download their app and safely use scooters on the roads. They will also explain where the scooters can and cannot be parked.

We’ll update you on the time and location once it's announced.

Credits

Hannah Tiede

Copyright 2019 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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