In 2018, the City adopted a policy prohibiting the roll-out of an app-based, e-scooter program. These are the ones that you can walk up to, scan a code on your phone for immediate payment, then ride from there. As the e-scooter craze was taking over the nation, City officials realized they were not a good fit for New Orleans based on growing concerns from other cities including unsafe operations like riding (and storing) them on sidewalks, poor roadway conditions contributing to increased injuries, and little accountability for the operators. New Orleans decided that the negative impact to city resources like the Department of Public Works, NOPD, and EMS far outweighed their benefit.
But this year, we’ve these e-scooters have been popping up around the neighborhood, despite having never been permitted.
On Thursday, September 29, 2022, the City Council Transportation Committee considered Ordinance #33,745 and a companion amendment to further define how e-scooters rentals can legally operate in the city, and we need your support to get it passed. From that committee, it can be heard by the full City Council as early as October 6th. Write the Council today – sample letter below.
This ordinance does allow for brick-and-mortar storefronts to rent out the scooters, much like bicycles. It specifies that they must be picked up and dropped off at the same location and cannot be stored on the public right-of-way. Additionally, it allows for the removal of the scooters by the Department of Public Works if they are improperly stored (like on the sidewalk). Fees for impounding and storage can be assessed at $250 per scooter for the first infraction and $500 per scooter for subsequent violations.
So why allow them at physical rental facilities but not as an app-based fleet?
The simple answer is scale. The app-based offering allows the companies to scale up quickly, so what would be around 50 scooters in the neighborhood can lead to thousands in a matter of months. Austin, Tx now has over 11,000 on their streets. The business model of these e-scooter companies seems to be to (1) dump hundreds of them on city streets, regardless of local requirements, and (2) absolve themselves of all responsibility for bad behavior by users.
They look like fun, what’s the harm?
April 2022 – L.A.’s injury rate from e-scooters may exceed national rate for motorcycles
There are numerous risks involving these motorized scooters:
They are small and less visible to motorists, and they are silent, so pedestrians cannot hear them coming and can’t get out of the way quickly.
Uneven pavement, potholes, and road obstructions (sound familiar?) can cause a motorized scooter rider to lose control and be thrown from the vehicle.
Reckless and intoxicated behavior (sound familiar, again?) increases the chances of collision with pedestrians and other motor vehicles. An interesting side note: a 2020 study found that “intoxication may inhibit or depress protective reflexes that leave the face and head vulnerable during standing electric scooter accidents.” Yes, drunk riders fall on their faces.
Other injuries sustained from e-scooter collisions include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and bone fractures. A 2021 study from Austin found that the rate of injury from stand-up scooters was 180 injuries per million miles traveled on a scooter compared to 0.9 injuries per million miles for all other motor vehicles. Translation: riding on a stand-up scooter is 200 times more dangerous than riding in any other vehicle (including motorcycles and sit-down scooters).
September 2021 – U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission – Emergency room visits: rose from 7,700 (2017), to 14,500 (2018), to 27,700 (2019) and 25,400 (2020).
What You Can Do
Dear New Orleans City Council,
I am writing in support of Ordinance 33,745 that seeks to responsibly regulate e-scooters in the city. Too many cities have had to dial back overly permissive regulations as they see injuries escalate and frustrations rise from the reckless usage and abandonment of these e-scooters. The roadways of New Orleans are in notorious disrepair, and the liability for injuries is too high for this city to assume the risk.
New Orleans wisely chose not to fall into the e-scooter craze four years ago. Please do not let us make the same mistakes other cities are having to undo. For the safety of our residents and visitors, please make sure that all e-scooters must be rented and returned to the same physical business and that they are prohibited from being ridden and stored on sidewalks.
Read about the growing safety concerns and frustrations from other cities here:
January 2022 – Stockholm’s clampdown on ‘chaotic’ e-scooters
August 2022 – Cincinnati’s e-scooter curfew extended to 9 p.m.