Riders of electric scooters, bikes must be in street

February 14, 2020

An ordinance to update where electronic scooters, skateboards and other mobility devices can be ridden was unanimously approved by the Birmingham City Commission on Monday, February 10, which  they determined that in the city's central business district they must be ridden in the street, while throughout the other parts of the city, including neighborhoods, they can be ridden on sidewalks.

 Birmingham Police Commander Scott Grewe had introduced the ordinance on Monday, January 27, but commissioners requested legal clarification, boundaries and to have devices explained.

Grewe explained that there were two options; one, to keep the boundaries as the central business district, and the second to expand to the Birmingham Shopping District (BSD) boundaries, which go up and down Old Woodward and across Woodward to the Triangle District. After discussion, commissioners felt the central business district boundaries made the most sense and were less arbitrary.

As for definitions of electronic devices, they now mirror state law, Grewe said. It refers to “self-balancing, non-tandem, two-wheeled device intended to transport one person. For an electric skateboard, it can include something with handles; an electric bike, he said, is a bicycle with a motor. They cannot go more than 15 mph, and must be in areas with a speed limit of 25 mph or less.

“State law says they can be operated in the roadway, no more than two abreast, no more than 15 mph, a rider must be 13 years older, with a rider under 19 required to wear a helmet, and not at night without a light,” he said. They can be used on the sidewalk, but if on the road, they must obey all traffic laws.

“It's a safety issue, that's our priority number one,” said commissioner Mark Nickita, as commissioners vote 7-0 to approve the ordinance.

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