(Update – Kearns won the Nov 5th mayoral race.)
Too bad we can’t chose the winner of the mayoral race by staging a scooter race, I’m sure that we would all have more fun and maybe do no worse in choosing the correct person for the office.
I asked each candidate to give their positions on the issue of scooter rental (“sharing” in the lingo of the scooter companies, I fail to understand how the word share is accurately applied to the financial deal to use their scooters). The issue of rental scooters is of low importance for the future of the city, but the process that each candidate uses to explore and involve the residents of our town in plans for transportation is instructive.
Steve Reynolds was the first to respond, his reply follows:
I am not ready for an all-out ban of scooters. In the right context, they can be useful. In fact, conventional transit providers — including COTA — are specifically incorporating scooters as a “first-mile/last-mile” option within their strategic planning decisions.
That being said, I would not be in favor of staging them in typical residential settings. There simply is not room for them on most residential sidewalks and right-of-ways.
We need to get input from citizens in Grandview Heights to find out how many residents actually use, or would use, scooters as an alternative to other means of transportation. If, for example, we discovered that folks in Grandview Yard find them to be of value in getting around, there are a variety of places where staging them might be appropriate. We really need to have the discussion and spent some time weighing the benefits and risks.
As for riding them on the sidewalk, I am in favor of strict enforcement of prohibiting it. It simply is not safe for pedestrians.
Please let me know if you have any follow-up questions or comments.
A few days later I receive this email from Greta Kearns:
It is evident from your personal experience and anecdotes from Grandview residents that more enforcement and education are needed to improve safety. As a member of Grandview Heights City Council, I have heard complaints about reckless operation and scooters blocking rights-of-way and detracting from the character of the neighborhoods.
Because scooters play a role as “last-mile” transportation, they can pair well with public transportation and reduce auto traffic and parking headaches. When operated on the roads as legally required, scooters pose relatively low risk to others in the community. The shared mobility model is particularly popular in a high-amenity location such as Grandview Heights, which has many younger residents, and is compact and convenient to downtown and Ohio State. Like COTA and CoGo, scooters offer benefits such as low cost, convenience, and reductions in automobile traffic, parking and congestion.
Nevertheless, I believe scooters should be operated more safely than they are now, which can be accomplished through a combination of contractual, regulatory, and enforcement efforts, including community education on safe operation and regulations regarding where scooters can be parked.
Grandview Heights has an opportunity to formalize transportation and mobility policy when we implement our Comprehensive Plan beginning next year. Specifically, the plan recommends developing a city policy regarding scooters, including designating clear parking areas for scooters in high traffic areas. Contractual arrangements with the rental companies would also give us more control over scooter operation. One of the challenges is planning for the future as transportation models evolve. Last year there were two rental companies, this year there are apparently four, and next year may bring different operators and technologies entirely.
Mayor DeGraw has established a Transportation Advisory Group with community representation. Scooters are on the group’s radar, and recommendations are likely to emerge that are complementary to the Community Plan. If elected Mayor in November, you can expect Grandview Heights to act on the scooter issue next year.
It remains to be seen whether scooters will be a permanent part of the landscape, but many millennials embrace a lifestyle free of car ownership. You can see scooters parked in front of popular establishments on weekends, which takes cars off the road and frees up parking spaces.
Thank you for contacting me on this matter. I look forward to continuing to address Grandview Heights’ transportation policies, including scooters and other shared mobility models.
Thinking about the candidate replies
There is much similarity in the replies as far as viewpoints of the safety of the devices. Both candidates are against use of the scooters on sidewalks, but think that there may be some future way to incorporate them into “first-mile/last-mile” options.
“When operated as legally required” is the major sticking point for the scooters, they are scary to use with traffic on the street, so they are very often used on the sidewalk. The laws are clear on the state and local level – no scooters on the sidewalk. I have read that some people think there could be technological solutions that don’t allow the use on the sidewalk, but I think the Jetson flying cars will be here before scooters that can’t run people down on sidewalks are built.
Both wanted to see input from residents of the city on the use of scooters. If we go by the word of Mayor DeGraw, he had no emails that asked for the inclusion of staging areas for scooters in the city. The Comprehensive Plan (a committee that looked at many issues in Grandview) may have commented on the devices, but I assume there will be a more specific comment period before new rules for scooters are implemented.
While I understand “many millennials embrace a lifestyle” that would like to include scooters in it, I don’t want the rest of us to become forced to leap out of the way while walking on the sidewalks. I only read one candidate that asks for “strict enforcement of prohibiting” them on sidewalks. We all get plenty of education when we learn to drive a car, being pulled over and ticketed is how we internalize the laws. All rental scooters have rules printed on them that educates the drivers to stay off the sidewalk, you can see how well that works.
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