EBR metro council approves scooter rental program

EBR metro council approves electric scooter program

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Baton Rouge officials are working on a new way for people to get around town... using rented electric scooters.

After going back and forth for a few years about regulations regarding electric scooter rentals, companies are now getting the green light to come to Baton Rouge. During the early part of November, the metro council approved a couple of ordinances allowing the scooters to come to the capital city, with some restrictions of course.

The departments of Public Works and Transportation and Drainage will now put a plan together as to where to stage the scooters and what specific regulations will be in place. They’re also still working on the permit process and ironing out where people will be able to ride the scooters, as well as other safety issues.

“So we had people that came in and walked us through the ordinances, the rules. We looked to the bike plans that were passed and saw some of the things that need to be changed, some of the things that need to be tweaked to make sure it’s safe, make sure it’s efficient so it doesn’t clog our sidewalks downtown. We looked to other cities to see what they were doing to make sure that was similar to what we could do, but most importantly, we had a wonderful team behind us that put things together,” said Jennifer Racca, EBR metro councilwoman.

Officials with the Downtown Development District (DDD) believe this could be a game-changer for the area. Officials are hopeful the scooters will be ready to rent by January of 2021.

“Council approved the scooter ordinance, which includes the downtown area, so we’re going to see electric scooters come into the area,” said Davis Rhorer, with the DDD.

There are still some kinks to work out with the permit process for the scooters, and EBR officials need to review safety precautions as well.

“Where they [scooters] can ride and where they cannot ride and where they park these scooters, and obviously laws of consumption and stuff would be addressed on scooters just like they would be on cars,” said Rhorer.

Rhorer believes this could be huge for Baton Rouge, and a new way for people to commute in the downtown area.

“I love the idea of electric scooters, but personally I probably wouldn’t use them. I prefer the feet to get the exercise,” said Steve Byron, a visitor of Baton Rouge.

But as always with these scooters, there are some concerns for safety of both riders and drivers of cars.

In fact, the City of Lafayette ended up temporarily banning them because of safety issues, until their council could set up regulations for the companies, and its riders.

“I think it could be dangerous if it were someone who were not aware of their surroundings because there’s cars, but if they ride it on here, on this line, it’d be okay I think, but not with the alcohol,” said Romeca Fairue, a visitor of Baton Rouge.

It’s still not clear which scooter companies could be coming to the downtown area, but some city leaders believe the scooters could be here in weeks.

“I would hope and like to see them before the first of the year [2021], but we’ll just see how that goes. It’ll be relatively soon. We’ve been contacted by several scooters companies that are very interested in coming here, so I know they’ll be moving on this shortly,” said Rhorer.

Watch 9News at 10 tonight for more details on how this would work from WAFB’s Lester Duhé.

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