VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Riding electric scooters in the main traffic areas at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront could soon be against the law.
This coming Tuesday, Virginia Beach City Council will consider banning the use of e-scooters, such as Bird and Lime, anywhere east of Arctic Avenue between Rudee Loop and 42nd Street.
This comes after police, residents and business owners have raised concerns about safety at the resort.
“It is dangerous to people who are walking down the sidewalk. It’s dangerous to people who get on these things and don’t understand what they are doing,” said Vice Mayor Jim Wood (Lynnhaven), who has sponsored the resolution. “I think I’m on the right side of the issue, yeah.”
The ordinance, also sponsored by Mayor Bobby Dyer, Councilman Louis Jones (Bayside) and Councilwoman Rosemary Wilson (At Large), reads that “the City Council believes targeted geographical restrictions upon the operation of motorized scooters prioritizes the movement of pedestrians and bicycles in a densely- populated area where the citizens and visitors are most likely to traverse by foot or bicycle.”
Police have witnessed scooter riders driving recklessly, minors riding, more than two people riding one scooter and many scooter riders disregarding where they aren’t supposed to be. A 5-year-old recently had their skull fractured after being hit by a scooter on the boardwalk.
In addition, since May more than 10 people have had to be treated overnight at Virginia Beach General Hospital for scooter-related injuries according to Sentara trauma surgeons. Six of those patients had neurological injuries, and of those six, three also had orthopedic injuries.
Last month, council voted to allow scooters to travel in the lanes designated for HRT trolleys until the end of the year. If passed, that will no longer be the case, according to Wood.
The change would also prohibit e-scooters from traveling anywhere in the city over 25 miles per hour.
“I don’t support that, I can’t support that,” said Councilman Michael Berlucchi (Rose Hall.) “There are countries all over the world that have been successful with this new technology, and I think we should try.”
Berlucchi elaborated that he feels the move would contradict the Mayor’s “open for business” and “City of Yes” message.
“I think it’s highly premature,” said Councilman Aaron Rouse (At-Large). “We have a pilot program and we need to let that play out. Many people love having this transportation option at the Oceanfront.”
E-scooters are still relatively new to Hampton Roads. They originally arrived in both the resort city and Norfolk last year unannounced.
Anyone can find and “unlock” a scooter through a mobile app and start riding for a fee. They are considered dockless and are supposed to be ridden in roadways and parked on sidewalks, without blocking the public right of way.
Council learned that 128,340 individual rides have been taken on Bird scooters in the city in the month of July. In the first two weeks that Lime scooters operated in the city, 11,000 rides were taken.
City staff is currently working to craft a franchise agreement that could allow scooters to operate in the city with a revenue-sharing agreement. A survey has been launched to gather citizen input.