Electric scooters in Madison? City officials to weigh advantages, challenges

Electric scooters are not currently allowed on streets and sidewalks in Madison, but city officials said they are part of a discussion they’re having.

On Monday, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers signed into law a bill that lifts a statewide ban on e-scooters, allowing those that are under 100 pounds and abide by a 15 mph speed limit.

“We’re going to take this time right now to pause — just understand some of the new evidence and data that’s being assembled by different entities,” said Madison’s director of transportation, Tom Lynch.

Madison Common Council President Shiva Bidar said officials have asked the city attorney’s office to write a memo containing the options available to the council under the new law.

The council passed an ordinance in August 2018 that allows the city’s transportation department to conduct a pilot program if the statewide ban is lifted.

Lynch said the timing of the governor’s signature is “not conducive” to starting the pilot project this fall.

“Because it’s the middle of July and we can’t get something going this year, we’re going to take the next nine months and understand the advantages of e-scooters and some of the challenges associated with them,” Lynch said.

After reviewing research and speaking with officials in cities around the country that have the scooters, he said the biggest concerns right now are parking for the scooters and health considerations for those who ride them.

“There are a fair number of injuries. A lot of the injuries have to do with head injuries because helmets are not frequently used,” Lynch said.

If city committees and the council sign off on the pilot project, Lynch said it could happen sometime next year.

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