City rolls out new guidelines as e-scooters return to streets

Spin joins the fleet of e-scooters in Atlanta.

Electric scooters disappeared from the streets of Atlanta back in March as the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up. As of July 1, e-scooters are back, along with a new set of guidelines issued by the city’s department of transportation.

The Atlanta Department of Transportation (ATLDOT) said its 2020 Shareable Dockless Mobility Devices Program will be deployed in four phases over the next few weeks.

Back in early March, the Atlanta City Council limited the number of permits issued to dockless device companies after outcry from the community over the proliferation of scooters. A number of companies left the market in the wake of the city crackdown, which also included a nighttime curfew and speed limit along the Atlanta BeltLine’s busy Eastside Trail.

According to a press release from the city, ATLDOT conducted a competitive permit application process resulting in the selection of four device companies: Bird, Helbiz, Spin, and Veoride. Each company will offer stand-up scooters for rent. In addition, Helbiz will provide e-bikes and Veoride will offer sit-down scooters.

“Atlanta, like many major cities, understands the need to present options of various modes of transportation,” said ATLDOT Commissioner Josh Rowan. “Dockless mobility devices are just one part of this equation. Our goal is to ensure we adhere to the input we received under our previous program and to improve our delivery in addressing the city’s transportation needs.”

Bird scooters returned to the streets of Atlanta on July 1 and were joined by newcomer, Spin.

ATLDOT said fleet would increase over the second and third phases of the new program, while the fourth and final phase will see an adjustment of the fleet based on operations and public health needs.

In the first phase, the city will allow 2,000 stand-up scooters, 500 bicycles and 500 sit-down scooters. In the second stage, the city will allow 4,750 stand-up scooters and the same numbers of bicycles and sit-down scooters.

In response to COVID-19, each company is providing the city with an operations protocol, including a commitment to sanitizing devices regularly, implementing distancing protocols for staff, and communicating to customers the importance of following CDC guidelines. Operations will be monitored daily, with fleet size and staged implementation timelines adjusted should any public health concerns emerge.

–John Ruch contributed

Update: This story has been updated with information from the city about the nighttime rental ban and the numbers of vehicles that will be permitted.

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