An ordinance presented to the Birmingham City Commission on Monday, January 27, to update where electronic scooters, skateboards and other mobility devices can operate was sent back for legal clarification, boundaries and to have devices explained.
Birmingham Police Commander Scott Grewe introduced the new ordinance, which he said would include skateboards, scooters and other electric personal assistive mobility devices that correlate with their non-electric counter parts. He explained that none of the city's ordinances cover them, “so we cant do anything about them. So we went to the city attorney to write up an ordinance.
Commissioner Mark Nickita had several objections to the new ordinance, as well as confusion over its language.
“You're basically mandating them to the sidewalks, which is where I have a problem,” Nickita said. “There's all sorts of studies about issues with bikes on sidewalks – in all the studies, they say they shouldn't be on sidewalks. They say that bikes on sidewalks are problematic. Most are illegal, especially where there are a lot of pedestrians. I already have a problem allowing bicycles on our sidewalks – and then you add motors to them, and they're very dangerous. I've personally seen crashes, read articles about people getting hurt.
“I think we need to re-evaluate this,” Nickita continued. “There are other cities, like Royal Oak, that say, 'please walk your scooters.'”
“There are certain devices that aren't permitted, and what roadways (they're not permitted on) – like the Bird or Lime scooters,” Grewe said.
“These would be prohibited on the sidewalk in the central business district, but not in the rest of the city,” said city manager Joe Valentine. “In the central business district (downtown), they'd have to be in the street.”
Commissioner Clinton Baller asked for clarification or a presentation as to what the different devices are or could be.
The ordinance was sent back to the city attorney to be clarified legally, and to be brought back to the commission, as well as an explanation of the boundaries where they would be permitted on streets versus sidewalks, and a description of various devices.