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Durham considers safety of e-scooters

October 3, 2018

Electric scooters made waves when they were deployed in Raleigh and Chapel Hill.

With the scooters reaching speeds of 15 mph and many riders without helmets and on sidewalks, some people call them unsafe.

For now, the scooters aren’t in Durham, but multiple companies want to bring them to the city.

“There’s a lot of interest, and they’ve expressed that for multiple months now,” said Bryan Poole, city transportation planner.

Poole helped develop ordinances the City Council will review this week to regulate e-scooters.

Councilman Charlie Reece said the ordinances are designed to hold vendors accountable and ensure public safety.

“What we’re trying to do is get ahead of that curve to establish the legal and regulatory framework within which these vendors can operate,” Reece said.

Many residents said they hope the scooters will come to Durham.

“Scooters seem to cause less pollution, not as much of a parking problem downtown, probably cut down on traffic,” resident Brian Bramson said.

Reece said he wants the scooters in Durham, too, as long as safety comes first.

“One of the things I’m really most excited about is the opportunity to bring these devices to Durham in a way that’s safe, that makes sense, that doesn’t pose a burden to the pedestrians and the disabled folks who use our sidewalks,” Reece said.

In Raleigh, city staff have been working on an ordinance that the council will see at its Oct. 16 meeting.

Scooters were in Chapel Hill for only a few days before the town and the University of North Carolina asked the company to remove them while they addressed safety and financial concerns.

The Durham City Council will discuss ordinances in its work session Thursday and could vote on them later in October.

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