Cities rev up scooter initiatives
Bike lanes, public transportation systems and walking trails are nothing new for cities that are trying to cut down on traffic congestion and promote more environmentally friendly commuting. Increasingly, local governments are adding another approach: giving residents incentives to drive scooters instead of cars.
Scooter initiatives seek to help people choose alternatives to larger single occupancy vehicles, says Sally Clark, a Seattle City Council member and vice chair of the city’s Transportation Committee. “We need to convince people there are better options than getting into their car,” she says.
After a forum in March with scooter riders, Seattle created a Web site where residents can upload pictures of places they would like scooter-designated parking spots, and it prohibited car drivers from moving someone else’s scooter from a parking space to park a car in its place. Also, the city will begin examining whether it is financially feasible to let scooter riders park for free, Clark says, a practice already in place in some cities.
As Austin, Texas, converts 3,500 single metered parking spaces into multi-space pay stations, the city is allowing motorcycles and two-wheeled motorized vehicles to park for free, at the urging of the mayor and some city council members. The free parking also will eliminate the problem of stolen pay station tickets from the scooters, says Robert Spillar, Austin transportation director.
Austin Energy, a wholly owned city utility, is offering an electric vehicle rebate program for all-electric cars, scooters, motorcycles and bicycles. Utility customers can apply to receive $150 for purchasing new, all-electric scooters.
With cities looking for ways to encourage more environmentally friendly transportation, scooter riders don’t want to be left out, Clark says. “We have a lot of people here who think about living with a smaller carbon footprint,” he says. “The scooter riders see there are plans for bikes and pedestrians, and [they] want a focus on scooters as well.”
Jennifer Grzeskowiak is a Laguna Beach, Calif.-based freelance writer.
SCOOTER CITY NEWS
Some other programs aimed at promoting scooter use in cities
Atlanta — The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety hosts Scooter Commuter Day, in which hundreds of scooter riders ride downtown to the state capitol.
Cincinnati — The city has created multiple free scooter-only parking lots in its downtown.
Denton, Texas — The city hosts Alternative Transportation Day, on which residents try alternative means of transportation.
Source: New York-based Piaggio Scooters Group Americas