Electric scooter rentals may not be returning to Lafayette soon, not until local laws are written to regulate their use.
Two electric scooter rental companies, Bird and Lime, made a push in November, December and January, to enter the Louisiana market via Lafayette. They pulled out in January at the request of Mayor-President Joel Robideaux because no local or state laws existed to govern the use of for-rent electric scooters.
An ordinance on Tuesday's City-Parish Council agenda would outlaw such scooters for the foreseeable future, until local laws are approved governing how and where they can be used in the city and parish. The laws would address issues such as permitting, parking and limits to local government's liability in case of accidents.
State Sen. Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, introduced legislation approved by state lawmakers and signed by the governor, defining and regulating electric scooters on state roadways.
The state law, which is effective July 1, sets the stage for local governing bodies like Lafayette's to enact their own regulations for low-speed electric scooters. The law requires anyone under the age of 17 to wear an approved safety helmet while operating an electric scooter.
Under the state law, local governments may enact fines for parking or moving violations involving electric scooters.
When the Bird and Lime scooters burst onto Lafayette's downtown scene they were hailed as a fun alternative to walking and a way to reduce vehicular traffic. Others objected because some renters did not operate the scooters in a safe manner on roads and sidewalks.
Another objection was that the rental scooters can be left anyplace. There is no home base, per se. Riders use an online app to rent the scooters, paying by the minute. When they've arrived at their destination, they can just drop the scooter on a sidewalk or roadside. The company employs people to locate and retrieve the scooters using gps.
The council meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 705 W. University Ave., Lafayette. The public may sign in to address the council about this topic.