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Could Cincinnati ban e-scooters? Email says city leaders are considering it

If you're hit by a Bird rental scooter -- or hit while riding one -- who's accountable?
Posted at 11:13 PM, May 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-14 15:08:15-04

CINCINNATI — Could electric scooters be banned in Cincinnati?

An email obtained by WCPO partner WVXU shows city leaders warned Lime and Bird about a possible ban on e-scooters the same day Cincinnati started enforcing a curfew that would only allow e-scooters to operate within city limits from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

"[Department of Transportation & Engineering] impressed upon Bird and Lime that for the first time, the City Administration, in response to the mounting e-scooter program associated issues, is considering the possibility of terminating the e-scooter program and banning public ride-share e-scooters from operating within the city," the email says.

The city said officials met with Bird and Lime to discuss issues brought up by the police department and community members, including e-scooter use in criminal activities, underage riding and riding on the sidewalk — an act City Council banned in 2018.

Cincinnati said the curfew would be in effect until the companies and the city could come to a resolution. As those discussions commence, Bird said it's working to "prevent policy decisions with sweeping repercussions for many." The company said it is hoping Cincinnati will retract the new regulations.

"We hope that by working to address these concerns, the city will retract its decision to implement a curfew which penalizes the tens of thousands of responsible riders who are dependent on our service for access to their jobs, education opportunities as well as healthcare services," Bird said.

The devices are popular downtown.

“It saves the environment, too,” Brad Smith said. “It requires no gas or anything. You just plug in and it’s good to go.”

Still, e-scooters used on sidewalks or for criminal activities would be a safety issue.

"I can see it on both sides,” said Justin Couch, a frequent rider who bought his own scooter. “I understand the side of people who are done with it, because a lot of people kind of abuse the right to ride the scooter. Some of them are not being responsible. For the people who are responsible, it kind of ruins it for them.”

This is not the first time the city has discussed banning e-scooters. When the council banned e-scooters from the sidewalk, former council member Chris Seelbach suggested banning them altogether. Riders said they hope that's not the result.

"As long as everybody is following traffic rules and being nice to everybody, it should be fine," Jason Smith said. "Hopefully they don't get away with them.”

City officials will discuss the issue at the next Public Safety and Governance Committee meeting Tuesday.

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