Since the first appearance of the rental electric scooters in 2018, three new companies have come to Columbus this year. None of them have signed negotiations to allow them to be “staged” inside Grandview Heights – they can’t start the day from drop locations here. There is nothing that can stop the scooters from being left on our sidewalks after the completion of a ride, and in the last couple months the scooter have shown up randomly in Grandview. I wondered – are the companies trying a stealth move to include our city in the operational area?
My personal opinion is that the scooters are toys that don’t fit into the transportation options well. I had a couple of incidents where I was forced to step aside off the sidewalk as groups whizzed by. Their response when I reminded them the scooters are not legal on the sidewalk (at both state and local level) was to ignore me.
I asked Mayor Degraw about the negotiations he made with the rental scooter companies, and the actions the city will take if the devices are sneaked into operation here. I was surprised that the Mayor had made the decision on his own, after receiving some complaints about the scooters, and no positive messages. There will be no rental scooters in Grandview.
I’ve been approached by 3 of 4 scooter companies, you mentioned, (I expect the fourth one to contact me) to sign agreements to allow them to stage and operate inside our community. I decided not to negotiate. Because when they originally started they just came in and place to scooters on sidewalks and reduced the area where a pedestrian can walk or blocked/impacted the handicap ramps. I think that having four of them now would even make the situation worse. In fact two of them even offered to pay to come in but giving us a share of the revenue.
I do not see enough benefit to the community that outweighs the impact on our sidewalks and safety to our residents.
The companies have learned not to stage scooters in our community, because if they do, we pick them up and lock them in the service garage. We do release them after a couple days. This has work quite well.
I’ve considered negotiating agreements for designating areas where they can be staged but have had no pressure from the community to allow them, contrary most of the feedback is to not allow them and most of that activity was last summer. You were actually the first inquiry I’ve had this summer concerning this issue. Most of the community appears to be happy or just accepts the current situation.
The ones you see around town are being driven in by residents or visitors to our city. There’s no magic blue line where Grandview starts and Columbus ends. We allow this. The riders drop them off in the companies pick them up within a couple of days. By not allowing staging we do limit the scooters in the community. There are also more and more personal scooters around town that are not part of any company.
We do allow scooters and bikes to ride on the multipurpose paths in the community. They are designed for that purpose and marked with Signage. This may be part of the confusion of some sidewalks being allowed to have scooters and bikes on them.
I will take the blame for the police department not aggressively enforcing the riding of bikes and scooters on the sidewalk. We all know that is going on, It is not a priority we have identified. They do watch for aggressive and unsafe operations as they do with driving a vehicle on the street. Technically an adult can’t ride on the sidewalk with their bicycle. Yet a father or mother riding with their kids slowly down a sidewalk is not going to draw the attention of the police. The scooter riding 15 mph in a crowd of pedestrians will. I know the police have stopped people and told him to get off the sidewalk. I know this because I’ve gotten phone calls.
I would encourage if you see something dangerous where someone could get hurt, by all means call the police.
Mayor Ray DeGraw
Dangerous devices that will be dumped on our cities
A small history lesson on unregulated transport in China.
A few years ago, companies in China began to use the “dockless rental model” to place bikes on the streets of Chinese cities. Because investment is always cheap, soon many companies joined in the business. The sidewalks became littered with unused bikes, and as residents got tired of seeing all those bikes cluttering the sidewalks, they began to throw them into piles. The bike rental companies went bankrupt, and the cities were left with finding solutions to the piles of discarded bikes.
We don’t have piles of discarded rental scooters yet, but as the market shakes out, it could happen here. The added danger is that the scooter have lithium batteries that can catch on fire when mistreated.
Imagine piles of burning scooters.
The scooter downside list
This is the short list of reasons that dockless rental scooters are not a good transportation option.
Electric scooters are a short distance transport that makes little sense. They are nearly impossible to use if you are carrying something heavy, like food from the store. They are too slow for traffic on the street, and so people use them on the sidewalk, where they are a danger to walkers (and illegal). They get left on the sidewalks blocking the walkers, or on private lawns. They are too dangerous because nobody uses helmets. The small wheels get lodged in street defects, and throw riders, causing many injuries. They can catch on fire, which you will not like if someone dropped them off in the bushes in front of your house.
The upside – I guess they are fun, and cheap.
The rental bikes we have here (CoGo) solve all the problems the scooters can’t solve. And they seem to limit then to just what is needed. I hope we dump rental scooters (responsibly) and go back to bicycles.
(Edit – Other people don’t like rental scooters. )