On June 21, Nashville, Tennessee Mayor David Briley announced that electric scooters would no longer be allowed in the city. Mayor Briley decided to enforce the ban following the May death of Brady Gaulke, 26, in an e-scooter accident. However, the official did note if scooter companies implemented stricter safety measures, he might allow the micro-mobility vehicles to operate in the city again.
Nashville’s History with E-Scooters
According to the Tennessean, the e-scooter trend arrived in Nashville in May 2018. Initially, micro-mobility company Bird launched a fleet of 10,000 vehicles in the city. However, the area’s residents quickly took to the machines and now seven firms have released a total of 4,000 e-scooters across the region.
Despite their ecological and traffic benefits, the introduction of the electric vehicles to Music City has been fraught with problems. Nashville law prohibits users from riding or parking scooters on sidewalks. However, once e-scooters became available, riders immediately violated that ordinance.
As a result, the local legislators instituted new rules fining rideshare companies when they leave vehicles in throughways. Furthermore, the Nashville City Council voted to limit the overall number of e-scooters in the area in August 2018.
Following continued incidences of riders abandoning their vehicles in public areas, the city created 25 designated e-scooter parking places in March. But tragedy struck last month when Brady Gaulke died after riding into the path of an oncoming sport-utility vehicle. Nashville police found Gaulke’s blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit when he died.
Today, I notified Nashville's seven scooter companies of my decision to end the pilot period and ban e-scooters from our streets. We have seen the public safety and accessibility costs that these devices inflict, and it is not fair to our residents for this to continue. pic.twitter.com/1IBmZRsRgF
— Mayor David Briley (@MayorBriley) June 21, 2019
After Gaulke’s death, residents called for a local ban on e-scooters. Consequently, Mayor Briley asked the city’s leading micro-mobility providers to come up with proposals that would improve public safety. Subsequently, Bird, Jump, Gotcha Mobility, Lime, and Lyft sent a joint letter to the mayor suggesting free helmets, vehicle limits, and the creation of new bike lanes. Ultimately, Briley rejected those proposals and ordered city lawyers to terminate Nashville’s current e-scooter contracts.
The city leader said he might allow one or two micro-mobility companies to operate in Nashville again. However, he further stated they would need to meet new, stricter accessibility and safety standards.
Increasing E-Scooter Scrutiny
Nashville isn’t the only municipality to institute an e-scooter crackdown recently.
Earlier this month, Bird, an Uber subsidiary, announced it would be winding down operations in San Antonio, Texas following the introduction of new legislation. The area’s city council revealed it would force Bird to cut its 4,000 e-scooter fleet by half.
Furthermore, Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, said she would introduce new micro-mobility legislation following a recent rider death. On June 11, a truck driver hit and killed an unidentified 25-year-old e-scooter rider. The French capital had not previously experienced an e-scooter fatality. However, citizens have recently complained that riders leave their vehicles in unauthorized public areas.
Mayor Hidalgo plans to ban riders from parking on sidewalks and limiting their speed to 12 miles per hour.
It’s also worth noting the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report questioning the safety of e-scooters last month. The agency determined for every 100,000 e-scooter trips, 20 riders sustained injuries. Furthermore, the CDC reported a lack of helmets and alcohol were significant contributing factors to the high incidence of micro-mobility accidents.
A few days before the report was published, Lime chairman Brad Bao said his company spent $3 million to improve rider safety. He also noted the firm is developing tools to prevent intoxicated individuals from operating its vehicles.