After first appearing in Atlanta over a year ago, dockless scooters and e-bikes remain a steady and growing presence in city life. City data shows that from February to May of this year, the number of monthly scooter trips increased from 317,000 to 528,000—that's an additional 211,000 trips per month. People who spend time in Midtown—from commuters to residents to visitors—are increasingly using these scooters to travel short distances to where they need to go.
Midtown continues to see new shareable dockless mobility companies introducing new products; there are so many colors and styles of scooters and bikes it can be hard to keep track. The City Council passed a dockless mobility ordinance earlier this year to establish guidelines for using these devices. This ordinance requires riders to use the street, however many riders continue to feel most comfortable riding on the sidewalks of the city.
Earlier this month, staff from Midtown Alliance’s Transportation team went throughout the district applying green informational decals to the sidewalks in order to assist with the City of Atlanta's Office of Mobility Planning #ScootSmart campaign. The stickers read: “Park Here,” and are placed at designated parts of Midtown sidewalk furniture zones that can legally accommodate the parking of micro-mobility vehicles such as e-scooters and e-bikes since these spots allow space for people walking and using wheelchairs. The Office of Mobility Planning has also installed red decals that read “Never Ride on Sidewalks” on sidewalks throughout the city.
The City's #ScootSmart campaign aims teach scooter and e-bike riders about the rules and best practices for riding on the streets of Atlanta.
“We want to nudge behavior into a better direction for parking and riding the devices,” said City of Atlanta Office of Mobility Planning Planner Kemberli Sargent, who added that the decals will last for at least six months on the sidewalks.
“We found that a lot of people—especially those riding for their first time—don’t understand what the rules are," said Sargent. "We want to make it really obvious for both users and non-users.”
There are about 100 #ScootSmart decals of each color installed in Midtown and Downtown, and the Office of Mobility Planning plans to also install some in-street corrals—using flex posts and rubber wheel stops— in addition to labels in parking spaces to further designate scooter and e-bike parking spots.
Sargent encourages scooter and e-bike riders to be aware of existing bike infrastructure throughout the City—as these lanes are available for scooter riders too.
Scooter riders can use bike lanes where available. Midtown's 2019 Community Survey shows that 79% of respondents—including Midtown residents, workers and visitors—believe that cycling infrastructure should be a priority in future projects. And 42% indicated investment in infrastructure to support dockless scooters should be a priority. Midtown Alliance is consistently working to improve infrastructure for cyclists, and is in various stages of design and implementation of projects to add bike lanes to the district.
In addition to the importance of complying with the City Ordinance, scooter riders should be aware of the dangers of riding on the sidewalk.
“Just because it feels safer to be on the sidewalk as opposed to the street, doesn’t mean that it is safe,” said Sargent.
The dangers of riding a scooter or bike on the sidewalk include turning vehicles at driveways, intersections and parking garages where drivers are not expecting someone going at that speed on the sidewalk.
“That is actually quite dangerous,” said Sargent.
Sargent said law enforcement officers are issuing warnings and tickets to riders who violate the dockless mobility rules, which can result in fines from $25-$1,000 in municipal court. The City’s priority is ensuring riders know the rules and encouraging better behavior.
“It’s an important education moment,” said Sargent.