Electric scooters are back in Music City, but there's a catch!
When rentable electric scooters were introduced earlier in the summer, Nashville had some difficulty determining appropriate safety regulations. After some tensions arose between the city, the riders, and the public, the scooter company was forced to pull out until the Metro Council could decide on an official set of safety regulations. The Council has now come to an agreement, and multiple electric scooter companies have returned.
Here are some tips and regulations to be aware of before scooting around town.
Electric Scooters Are NOT Allowed on Sidewalks in Business Districts
To protect the safety of those in pedestrian-heavy areas, electric scooters are not allowed to be ridden on sidewalks in business districts. When riding in these districts, use designated bike lanes and follow the rules of the road. Scooter riders are required to stop at stop signs, follow traffic signals, and yield to pedestrians. Many business districts are also dense vehicular traffic areas, so following the rules of the road is important for everyone's safety. Motorists may not be watching for electric scooters, so always practice defensive driving when operating one.
When riding outside of business districts, riding an electric scooter on the sidewalk is allowed. However, regulations require yielding to pedestrians, as well as verbally announcing when passing them. Riding electric scooters on sidewalks can be dangerous to pedestrians, if they are not made aware of their presence.
Helmets Are Not Required but Greatly Encouraged
The new regulations do not require safety gear such as knee pads, wrist guards, or helmets when operating an electric scooter, but helmets are strongly encouraged. As stated in our previous electric scooter blog post, they can travel up to 15 miles per hour. This is the same speed of an average cyclist. In a 2015 study, helmets.org reported that 97% of bicycle fatalities involved a rider that was not wearing a helmet. Since these scooters are required to be ridden on the road in some areas, it is important to maintain safety precautions in case of an accident with a passenger vehicle.
Park Scooters Responsibly
One of the biggest issues before the new regulations was where to properly park a scooter after a ride was over. Electric scooters are dockless, so they are not required to be parked in a specific business or vending location. Because of this, riders were leaving scooters in the middle of sidewalks, in front of businesses, and in front of handicap ramps or accessible entrances. With the new regulations now in place, scooters are not permitted to be parked in the following areas:
- Public walkways
- Transit zones such as bus stops or passenger waiting areas
- Bicycle rental stations
- Loading zones and disabled parking zones
- Benches, parking pay stations, and transit information signs
- Curb ramps
- Entryways and driveways
If a scooter rider violates these restrictions, the company will be charged a $25 fee, which they are able to pass on to the rider.
Electric scooters are a convenient way to get around the city, reduce emissions, and reduce traffic. They are not expensive to ride, and they're readily accessible to anyone with a smartphone. However, it is important to follow the new regulations for everyone's safety. It can also help prevent any potential fines.
Read the official Metro Council ordinance here.