VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Beach City Council has officially banned e-scooters at the city’s Oceanfront due to concerns over safety.
Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer joined Vice Mayor Jim Wood and council members Barbara Henley, Louis Jones, Rosemary Wilson and Sabrina Wooten in voting yes to the ban, which would prohibit e-scooters such as those from Bird and Lime from operating east of Arctic Avenue between Rudee Loop and 42nd Street.
Council members Jessica Abbott, Michael Berlucchi, John Moss, Aaron Rouse and Guy Tower all voted no.
Before the vote, Wilson pointed out that Tuesday’s decision is not permanent, and is only in effect until a potential franchise agreement (like one in Norfolk) with Lime and/or Bird scooters is finalized at the end of the year.
After a public comment session, Dyer said it was a tough decision, but ultimately said the e-scooters pose too much of a danger to public safety.
Since May, more than 10 people have been hospitalized overnight at Virginia Beach General due to scooter injuries, and Wood shared updated statistics from Virginia Beach EMS that 65 people have been treated in recent months from scooter injuries. He also noted that three city contractors were hit on the boardwalk in the past week.
Bird scooters have been operating in Virginia Beach since last year, and more than 128,000 rides were taken on Birds in the past month of July alone. Lime scooters were just released in the city in mid-July.
Critics of the ban have shared how the scooters are a convenient alternative to other forms of transportation, and even one of the only options to get around.
Demetrio Marchione, a veteran who spoke at the meeting, said he sustained a leg injury in Operation Desert Storm and can’t ride a bicycle. He called the scooters “a blessing,” that a few are ruining for all.
“It’s incumbent upon us to remember there is a transition period when there is something new,” Rouse said. “Always bumps and bruises going forward.”
Rouse favored sticking with a pilot program that was implemented last month that allowed scooters to ride in the HRT trolleys on Atlantic Avenue until the end of the year.
But with council’s vote, by Friday, 500-1000 scooters currently at the Oceanfront will be moved according to Brian Solis, assistant to the City Manager. Solis said Bird and Lime have agreed to geofence (GPS-programming) the new area to prohibit scooter use.
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