[By Brianna Kudisch]
The six-month electronic scooter pilot program will be shut down, effective immediately, Elizabeth council members decided Tuesday night, less than a week after a 16-year-old boy was struck and killed by a tow truck while riding one.
The resolution passed with an unanimous vote 8-0, with one councilman absent from the vote.
Members of the public harshly berated the council members for allowing the Lime e-scooter program in Elizabeth without completing, what they said, was the necessary research.
“You didn’t do your homework,” Salaam Ismial, an outspoken activist and critic of the e-scooters, said, addressing the council.
Carlos Trujillo, another activist, said Elizabeth’s congestion is out of control and “we’ve never been a bike-friendly city, quite frankly.”
“We’re not ready for these scooters,” he said, citing the city’s current infrastructure. He said he’s seen kids riding the scooters on the sidewalk or squeezing by on the roads.
Nelson Miranda-Gomez was riding the scooter around 8 p.m. last Wednesday when he was hit by the truck making a right turn onto South Spring Street, officials said. He died of his injuries a short time later.
Surveillance video of the crash shows Miranda-Gomez was on the shoulder and going with the flow of traffic when the truck collided with him, NJ Advance Media previously reported.
E-scooters have to comply with laws that apply to cars, which means riders are supposed to ride in the street with the flow of traffic. The driver was not charged.
Council members Tuesday expressed their condolences to Miranda-Gomez’s family, with one saying the original vote to pass the pilot program was one he regretted.
“Our biggest fear came true when we lost a young man, Nelson-Miranda Gomez,” Councilman Nelson Gonzalez said, just before the vote.
“I have to say, out of all the votes I’ve taken while on council, I think this is one of the ones I regret the most and I’m not going to make the same mistake again tonight,” he continued.
James Cary, a representative for the Miranda-Gomez family and from the Elizabethport Presbyterian Center, was also at the vote. He said he notified the family of the vote afterward.
Phil Jones, Lime’s senior director for government relations, provided a statement to NJ Advance Media, which said they were “disappointed” by the vote, but they “hope to work with (the) city on a revised program.”
“We remain devastated by the loss of Nelson Gomez and our hearts go out to his family during this difficult time,” he said in the statement. “This tragedy reaffirms our support for safer city infrastructure so that pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and scooter riders can safely share our street.”
The city received 10 cents per ride from Lime for the pilot program, which officials said would offset the cost of policing the scooters.
Hoboken’s six-month trial run with Lime ended Nov. 20 and the city is now considering whether to bring the scooters back. At least two people were charged with DWI in Hoboken after they were accused of riding on the scooters while intoxicated.