Summit County Council bans electric scooters
Electric scooters won’t be rolling into Summit County anytime soon.
Based on feedback from the community and the advice of county staffers, the County Council has agreed to ban the devices.
“Given our geography, it is not much of a solution to our transportation issues,” said Doug Clyde, County Councilor. “And, considering how the public thinks mixing electric bikes and regular bikes was a bad idea, I can’t imagine what they would think about electric scooters.”
When Summit County and Park City transportation officials asked how the community felt about electric scooters through an online survey in February, respondents were overwhelmingly against them.
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More than 560 people filled out the survey, with most of them expressing concerns about the safety of the scooters and the potential conflicts they could create with pedestrians and vehicles, said Pat Putt, Summit County’s community development director.
The results of the survey were presented to the Summit County Council on Wednesday. County Councilors Roger Armstrong and Glenn Wright were not at the meeting.
“Our takeaway from this particular survey was that there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of community support for this type of use,” Putt said. “Those 560 respondents felt we would be better served with expanding the existing electric bike share program and expanding transit services.”
Elected officials decided to amend the public safety section of the county code to ban electric scooters throughout the county.
County staffers asked the County Council to discuss the devices at the meeting after the county’s temporary zoning ordinance regulating the use of electric scooters expired in March. The state Legislature also passed a bill during the last session addressing electric scooter shares across the state. The bill allows local authorities to manage the use of electric scooters as long as the restrictions are consistent with bike regulations or prohibit them outright.
The county created the temporary zoning ordinance for electric scooters in October as the use became increasingly popular in cities across the country, including Salt Lake City. The ordinance established standards for operation that covered franchise agreements, business licenses, areas of use and impound provisions. No applications for electric scooter shares have been submitted to the county.
Officials have spent the last several years prioritizing transportation in an effort to get people out of their vehicles to reduce congestion along the main entry corridors and in areas like Kimball Junction. The county implemented an electric bike share program and added a circulator throughout Kimball Junction among other initiatives.
Caroline Rodriguez, the county’s regional transportation planning director, said she doesn’t think the scooters serve as an answer to the county’s transportation needs. She said regulating a private company offering a scooter share would create a burden for staff and the county doesn’t have the ability to tack on any additional fees.
Rodriguez also mentioned how the county has seen conflicts with electric bikes and pedestrians.
“Residents are very concerned about safety and we already have a good option for people looking to circulate throughout Kimball Junction,” she said. “I don’t see that it meets an unmet need. Where I think the bill fell short in assisting municipalities is they do give us the right to regulate, but not in a meaningful way. I don’t see scooters as efficient or safe.”
While officials agreed to implement a ban, some officials questioned whether it will actually be effective in preventing a company from deploying the scooters in the county. Helen Strachan, deputy county attorney, said the Sheriff’s Office would be allowed to pick up any scooters that are left in the county as abandoned property.
Putt said the ban could be lifted down the road if community sentiment about the devices changes.
“Knowing what we know now and how the community feels about our existing tools and some of the pending additions to those tools coming on board, we think those are probably more appropriate solutions to advance rather than bringing on this other form of mobility right now,” he said.
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Summit County elected officials spoke out strongly Wednesday against the speed with which Gov. Gary Herbert has reopened the state amid the coronavirus pandemic.