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Santa Fe bans electric scooter rentals

SANTA FE – Electric scooter rental companies may eventually make their way to Santa Fe, but not without first getting the city’s endorsement.

The City Council on Wednesday approved two accompanying pieces of legislation relating to electric scooters.

One adds the term “electric scooter” to the city’s traffic code and prohibits the use of rented electric scooters on public streets, sidewalks, parks and other public spaces unless the City Council adopts a pilot program that allows them. They council passed that proposal unanimously.

The other is a resolution that directs the city manager to evaluate whether shared electric scooters are suitable for Santa Fe and to make a recommendation as to whether it was “appropriate” for the City Council to consider developing a pilot program. The resolution was approved 7-2, with councilors Mike Harris and JoAnne Vigil Coppler voting against it.

Councilor Carol Romero-Wirth, who is sponsoring both proposals along with Councilor Signe Lindell, said it may turn out that it is determined that rental electric scooters should only be allowed in some parts of town. She said that GPS systems may help control where scooters go, “but we also need rules if we allow it.”

Currently, there are no electric scooter rental operations in Santa Fe, although city officials have said that companies have inquired about doing business in town.

The proposed ordinance change prohibiting rental electric scooters in public rights-of-way would not apply to scooters owned by individuals.

The concept of shared electric scooters has been gaining traction in cities in the United States and around the world. Some cities consider them a nuisance or dangerous and have banned them. Others have accepted them and adopted rules governing where they can travel and where they can be left for the next rider to pick up.

Typically, an app is used by scooter renters to find the scooters, pay a fee and leave notice where they were left.

Wednesday’s meeting included a public hearing, but just one person spoke on the issue.

“These scooters can really be a menace,” said Linda Bunton, adding that she saw what a problem they could be on a recent trip to Singapore.

While councilors Harris and Vigil Coppler expressed unfavorable feelings toward electric scooters, City Councilor Roman Abeyta of south side District 3, said he could see how some of his constituents would consider electric scooters as a mode of transportation.