SALT LAKE CITY — Near-collisions and close brushes with injury.
“Packs” of a dozen teenagers zooming down Main Street.
Unsupervised children scooting without helmets, and as many as four people riding one scooter at once.
These are a few of the things downtown residents have witnessed as electric scooters have grown more popular in Salt Lake City, some of those residents told City Council members Tuesday night.
A small but organized group stood up to voice their concerns about the scooters during the public comment period of this week’s council meeting, asking the city to more strictly regulate — and more strictly enforce regulations around — scooting downtown.
“Those riding the scooters have turned our beautiful downtown into a giant skate park,” said City Creek resident Susan Hilbig.
“Riders use them as if they’re trying out for the Olympic slalom team,” added her husband, Wayne Hilbig.
Dockless electric scooters first arrived in Salt Lake in June 2018. They’ve brought with them safety concerns, particularly when it comes to interactions between riders and pedestrians. Riding on the sidewalk in Salt Lake City’s downtown area is prohibited by ordinance but not always enforced, residents say, creating a public safety hazard.
A revamping of regulations may be in the city’s future as a draft scooter ordinance makes its way to the City Council. On Sept. 16, Salt Lake City Transportation Director Jon Larsen sent an email to the four current providers of e-scooters — Lime, Bird, Spin and Razor — urging the providers to self-police.
Commenters at Tuesday’s council meeting described incidents where they had nearly been hit by scooters and other instances of reckless or dangerous scooter use they had witnessed. One man said he had to jump out of the way while walking down Main Street this past weekend to avoid a rider who came “whizzing” around a corner. Several speakers noted it was difficult to hear scooters approaching from behind, making such situations more dangerous.
“I wonder where the parents are,” said downtown resident Constance Daly. “Well, sometimes the parents are with the three little kids on their own scooter, and no one’s got a helmet on.”
Daly and other residents said they saw a lack of enforcement of the current regulations, and asked the city to make sure those using scooters downtown were following the rules.
“If this does not occur, Salt Lake City will be known as the city that failed to act responsibly in protecting public safety,” resident Denise Taylor said.