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SALT LAKE CITY — One year has passed with little-to-no regulations during an e-scooter pilot program in Salt Lake City. Officials with the Salt Lake City Transportation Department said they have received hundreds of emails and phone calls asking for change.
“So many people are riding scooters on the sidewalks, and a large majority of pedestrians don’t feel safe coming to downtown anymore,” said Jon Larsen, Salt Lake City Transportation director. “I recently had two ladies reach out to me who moved here to celebrate their golden years in this highly walkable environment. They tell me they regret it. They don’t feel safe because people are whizzing past them, full speed, on scooters.”
Currently Salt Lake City has four e-scooter vendors. Each vendor is allotted 200 scooters for downtown and dozens more for the outskirts of the city. It’s estimated more than 2,000 scooters are available in Salt Lake at any given time.
“You have to ask the question, ‘how many vendors is too many?'” Larsen said. “We are strongly considering limiting it to one or two.”
Salt Lake City officials have yet to pass a formal ordinance governing scooter providers, but they are putting some heat on vendors.
“They need to come up with proven methods to get their users to ride in bike lanes instead of sidewalks,” Larsen said. “The vendors who can succeed in this will secure a contract.”
Otto and Michele Stuart walked to the Broadway Cinema Tuesday night and recounted some previous close calls with scooters.
“It’s been very frightening; I have almost been hit by a scooter many, many times,” Michele Stuart said. “They don’t follow the rules or laws — they are on the sidewalk.”
You have to ask the question, ‘how many vendors is too many?' We are strongly considering limiting it to one or two.
–Jon Larsen, Salt Lake City transportation director
Members of the Charron family enjoyed a night sightseeing on scooters and said they feel safer not riding on the roads.
“We are from Connecticut,” Kim Charron said. “We aren’t familiar with the roads here. I feel safer on the sidewalk. I always slow down when pedestrians are passing. My family and I don’t go flying by those we are sharing the sidewalk with because we don’t want to startle them.”
Local emergency room visits have skyrocketed in the past year due to scooter-related crashes — by as much as 160%, according to some reports.
“You can easily say that’s because there weren’t large amounts of scooters prior to last summer. Of course, the numbers will go up. These are minor injuries: broken wrists and noses. To address those problems, the mayor’s office is working on a ‘walk your wheels’ campaign to help inform people to use the bike lanes.”
Salt Lake City Council members are set to consider an ordinance regulating the scooters within the next few weeks.