[By Cole Behrens]
An Ohio Senate committee amended an electronic scooter bill on Wednesday to set the minimum riding age at 16 and limit the speed of scooters to 15 mph before sending the measure to a floor vote.
E-scooters can be rented via apps from vendors such as Lime and Bird.
“The age was set at 16 with the justification being the individuals share the same traffic and laws as motor vehicles,” said Sen. Rob McColley, R-Napoleon. “We need to be sure individuals understand basic traffic laws and safety.”
McColley, chairman of the Transportation, Commerce and Workforce Committee, said scooters often share the road with motor vehicles, so safety was the factor in the age requirement. Scooter companies do not set their own age requirements to operate the devices, he said.
The bill would impose speed restrictions at 15 mph and allow law enforcement to ticket scooter operators who impede the normal flow of pedestrian traffic or speed. Scooter companies can install speed limiters to comply with local laws and regulations.
House Bill 95 would also create a separate definition of low-speed electric scooters that considers them not to be vehicles, and are therefore exempt from registration.
The amended bill would allow municipalities and parks to restrict access or use of E-scooters if they wish.
House Bill 295 was passed by the House last October. Proponents representing the scooter industry said the bill represents a compromise between the scooter industry, municipalities and state lawmakers.
“Working together, we were able to agree on legislation which would accomplish our goal of establishing a definition for low-speed electric scooters without compromising their local control over the regulation of these devices,” said Miles Shuck, who represents Bird scooters.
The bill also requires scooters to be placed after use in a location that does not impede pedestrian traffic.
Jeremy Morris, representing the Ohio Statewide Independent Living Council, said one of the major reasons disability groups have problems with scooters is because they often are placed on the sidewalk in a way that block people in wheelchairs.
“Parking scooters in places along walkways and curbs creates significant barriers to individuals with mobility and visual disabilities, as well as to individuals without disabilities,” Morris said.