Portsmouth weighs e-scooter options ahead of 2019 deadline


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Electric scooters are popular in cities across the country, including Virginia Beach and Norfolk.

Portsmouth is now looking into the pros and cons of riding that wave, according to Mayor John Rowe. On Monday night, city council was set to further discuss the potential future of scooters in the city.

“Where can they operate, how many? What is the mix between people and scooters and vehicles. What are the safety requirements for people? These are all things we are looking at,” Rowe said.

Over the last month, Portsmouth city council discussed geofencing, max speed limits and how scooters most likely wont be allowed on sidewalks. A Virginia House bill allows cities to create a pilot program before the first of next year or they could risk vendors implementing programs without regulation.

“Why did the state do this? I think they were approached by the scooter industry and this is the compromise,” said Rowe. “Now, we are running against the clock.”

A spreadsheet provided by the city shows some of the initial thoughts for the program in Portsmouth. Recommendations for the program include one or two shared mobility device vendors coming to Portsmouth at one time. This includes bicycles, e-bicycles and e-scooters. The recommendation is for 300 total that could be in the Olde Towne area. The mayor says safety is the number one issue.

“I was downtown last night, 9 o’clock and there were people walking and running at the sea wall and these things are silent, and I just imagine that, you aren’t aware that someone passes you from behind and if you step one way or the other you could have a collision.”

Rowe is also concerned about where people drop the scooters after their ride is complete. He says he’s been able to speak with mayors from other localities.

“It’s not saying we want scooters, we want to regulate them, we don’t want to lose the opportunity,” Rowe said.

10 On Your Side will continue to bring you updates about the discussion.

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