Atlanta officials plan scooter crackdown, even possible ban

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After a wave of complaints into City Hall over scooters littering and overcrowding sidewalks and streets, Atlanta City leaders are looking into new regulations to crack down on abuses by either riders or scooter owners. 

Ideas to prevent littering include increasing permit fees, or even a temporary ban to cease bad practices as a last resort.  Proposals before various committees and the City Council are forthcoming, officials said. 

A Facebook post showing 170 scooters at the intersection of 10th Street and Monroe even caught the attention of Council President Felicia Moore. 

"Are we able to audit them to make sure they're not putting more [scooters] on the streets than the permit allows?" she asked.

"We need enforcement. Having all the regulations in the world means nothing," Moore said. 

A permit for a scooter operator in the city of Atlanta is $12,000, and $50 for each additional scooter. Some city officials are asking if the cost needs to be higher; a similar permit in the city of Seattle is $250,000. 

Moore's office has been inundated with complaints of injuries: the scooters littering the sidewalks cause real hazards for those with disabilities and the blind, and pedestrians have reported injuries by scooters flying by. There are plenty of anecdotal reports of people injured while riding scooters. 

Atlanta city officials have requested data from hospitals about the number of scooter-related injuries.

Recently-created city laws ban scooters from sidewalks and do allow riders to operate them on the Beltline. Atlanta Police have not compiled the number of scooter-related citations, and plan to launch a campaign to inform people of ordinances and scooter etiquette. 

City officials have tackled illegal "dumping" and "littering" when scooters are tossed along city streets. Since the Super Bowl, officials have reported seizing 2,600 scooters, averaging 40 to 80 per day. Operators usually retrieve them all and must pay a fee, officials said.  

Moore is not the only official floating the possibility of a ban as a last resort. 

"We bring to the table all these providers, citizens and others and figure it out. And if we can't figure it out, then start to consider if we should ban them from the streets," Moore said.