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Huntsville looks to introduce electric scooters downtown with a pilot program

Published on August 22, 2019

lose up of man riding black electric kick scooter at beautiful park landscape. Man is on foreground, modern building and park is on background.

The City of Huntsville has been monitoring the growing use of electric scooters in cities across the country and is proposing a downtown pilot program.

“We are interested in mobility opportunities for our residents and scooters have the potential to provide another transportation option,” said Mayor Tommy Battle.

While the Mayor’s administration is open to the use of electric scooters, the City wants to ensure they benefit the community rather than become a nuisance, as has become the case in other cities.

City Council is now considering an ordinance that will pave the way for the City to issue a Request for Proposal for a single scooter provider. The company should have an established track record of performance in other communities and will likely be restricted to a minimal number of scooters in the first phase.

The City will set the rules and parameters on how and where the scooters will operate. Regulations will include where the scooters should park, how many may be in use, maintenance requirements and consequences for scooters illegally parked or dumped on sidewalks.

“We’ve had the benefit of watching how other cities have managed the scooters and we’ve learned from their mistakes and successes,” said Dennis Madsen, City of Huntsville Long-Range Planner. “By starting small in a concentrated area, we’ll be able to incorporate these best practices and shape the way scooters will serve the public.”

map of area downtown where scooters will be allowed to operate
The proposed electric scooter ordinance would launch a pilot program in the downtown core.

In the proposed pilot project, the scooters will be available for short-distance trips of about 1-2 miles around the central downtown area. Less expensive than ride-sharing for these quick jaunts, the scooters have the potential to help with a top transportation priority – solutions for the first-mile, last-mile challenge.

“Imagine taking a bus to the closest stop to work or shopping, and that location is still a mile or two from your destination,” says Madsen. “One day, scooters may help commuters fill that gap.”

Madsen stresses that the City will begin slowly and deliberately to ensure the scooters are used safely and properly parked.

Downtown Huntsville Executive Director Chad Emerson praised the City’s strategic approach. “Scooters are another transportation option our competing peer cities utilize and Huntsville’s thoughtful approach will allow us to test a program and get it right.”

Council is expected to vote on the Scooter Ordinance at their September 12 meeting.