Summit County rolls out scooter survey
Summit County and Park City’s transportation officials want to know how the community feels about electric scooter shares.
The county has posted a nonscientific online survey seeking opinions about electric scooter shares and the broader topic of shared mobility devices. Shared mobility systems allow users to rent scooters or other small-wheeled vehicles to travel short distances. Caroline Rodriguez, Summit County’s regional transportation planning director, said active transportation networks have increased in popularity across the country and are becoming a major topic of discussion in the Utah Legislature.
Private companies have already deployed electric scooter shares in places such as Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Santa Monica, California. But, the county hasn’t been directly contacted by any of those companies about operating in the area, Rodriguez said.
The seven-question survey covers topics such as safety concerns associated with the programs, potential benefits and education tactics that could be deployed to inform users how to ride safely.
“We are so close to Salt Lake City and they have had so many issues with electric deployment that we are just trying to get ahead of the curve,” Rodriguez said. “We are simply asking them, ‘What do you think of those programs? What do you like about them? What are your concerns?’ We are not proposing a program. We just want to know how people want us to act if a company comes in.”
The Summit County Council passed a temporary-zoning ordinance to regulate the use of shared mobility programs in September. The six-month ordinance was intended to give county staffers time to create permanent standards for how private companies would operate in the county.
Businesses would be required to create corals for the devices such as electric scooters under the temporary ordinance, similar to how the county’s electric bike program operates. Rodriguez said officials understand there is limited geography for these devices in the county compared to the more urban areas where similar programs have popped up.
“I understood that we could have allowed the bikes to be left anywhere, but I wanted to say where the bikes could be left,” she said. “Our intent would be to have docked systems if we were to pursue a scooter program.”
Rodriguez considers the survey a parallel step to the temporary-zoning ordinance, which expires in April. She said county officials need to determine whether they should let the ordinance expire or if a permanent one should be created.
The county has the ability to prevent any shared-mobility program from operating through zoning, Rodriguez said.
“We want to create solutions our residents are happy with,” she said.
Rodriguez strongly encouraged people to take the survey “instead of just saying ‘No’ on Facebook.” Social media users have overwhelmingly rejected the potential idea of a scooter program coming to the county, with many citing concerns about safety and the devices being left haphazardly on sidewalks.
Rodriguez said some social media users are under the impression that the county wants to establish a program and the survey reflects that.
“Part of this is that we want to give our residents, employees and visitors as many transportation options as possible,” she said. “We know this is out there so we want to know what people think. As staff we have no pre-determined outcome for this survey. Our intent was to ask what people think about it.”
Meredith Reed was elected to a two-year term as chair of the Summit County Democratic Party and said she sees an opportunity to ride the so-called blue wave that saw a Democratic surge nationally and within the state.