ATLANTA — The Atlanta City Council has officially repealed the Planning Department's power to issue permits for new e-scooters in the city.

Any permits granted prior to Aug. 19 would be permitted to continue to operate under their original terms until that permit expires.

In a statement following the move, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said it is a necessary step for the city to reevaluate transportation in the city. 

“Access to a wide array of mobility options is beneficial and necessary for any major city,” Bottoms said. “But there is need to pause and establish how best to regulate such a new and unknown industry.”

There have been four scooter-relate deaths in metro Atlanta in 2019, which has fueled action by Bottoms and the council.

In the city, scooters initially had free access to sidewalks and streets alike, until the city in January forced them onto the streets and off of the sidewalks - without making significant moves toward allowing them to co-exist with automobiles.

The Mayor signed an executive order which bans e-scooters at night, by forcing the companies which rent the dockless scooters to disable them between the hours of 9 p.m. and 4 a.m.

Although the mayor and the council have placed significant restrictions on e-scooters in the city as well as blocking new scooter companies from coming in, the moves have also spawned some push-back, primarily from Atlanta's biking community, which has long sought expansion of bike lanes on more streets in the city.

Advocates say it is well past time for the city to look ahead to a future which makes scooters and bicycles safer as they use the city's streets.

Rebecca Serna of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition spoke with 11Alive's Doug Richards earlier this month and said she wants to see the city make significant moves, including lowering speed limits and erecting temporary barriers to create space for bicycles and scooters on the city's streets.

"This is something we could do relatively quickly and it will save lives," she said, comparing them to temporary walkways sometimes placed alongside urban construction sites.

Some areas of the city have seen the establishment of set-aside lanes for bikes and e-scooters, most notably, along 10th Street near Piedmont Park, as well as along Peachtree Center Avenue and several other streets in downtown Atlanta.

An expansion of these lanes throughout the city has long been advocated by the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition as a means to make the city more friendly to bicycles, scooters and other modes of transportation.

Several cities around metro Atlanta have completely banned e-scooters either temporarily or permanently, including Alpharetta, Lilburn, Norcross, Snellville, Tucker, Marietta, Smyrna, Tucker and Athens.


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