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Dallas will wait a little longer for tighter scooter regulations

Transportation officials in Dallas will have four more months to iron out regulations that would address safety concerns around the city’s motorized scooters.

The Dallas City Council on Wednesday approved an extension for the ordinance’s sunset to March 31, before the scooter ordinance was set to expire by the end of this month.

Michael Rogers, director of the city’s Department of Transportation, initially planned to bring recommendations for ordinance changes this month. Rogers said Wednesday his staffers need more time to develop the proposal.

Those recommendations could include time restrictions at night — when most injuries occur — stricter enforcement measures for scooter companies and fees that would increase infrastructure revenue.

“There are a lot of issues that we’re still working on,” Rogers said. “We want this to be a collaborative approach where we get in front of as many people as possible to try to find the best sustainable solutions.”

The City Council in June 2018 temporarily lifted a ban on motorized scooters as a way to encourage alternative means of transportation. About 15,000 scooters now operate within Dallas, Rogers said.

But safety concerns have vexed council members, who are divided on the next steps to curb injuries and accidents on the motorized scooters, which can go up to 20 mph.

The Dallas Police Department in July began stricter enforcement of scooter regulations already on the books and started to issue citations for those on the sidewalks or disobeying traffic rules.

But staffers have been considering a limit to scooters’ hours of operation — an idea that both council members Lee Kleinman and Chad West have opposed as an overreach. Mayor Pro Tem Adam Medrano, who represents Deep Ellum, said Wednesday he supports the idea of a prohibition on scooter rides at night.

“I do believe that there needs to be a cutoff time in the evening,” Medrano said. “We see a lot of injuries happening.”

The ordinance initially proposed a three-month extension. Council member Chad West proposed amending the extension to four months in light of the holidays, he said Wednesday.

Rogers said another change could create an “infrastructure bank” and increase revenue by $1 million or more to put into street improvements, such as protected bike lanes. Scooter companies currently have to pay an initial $808 application fee and $21 per scooter to operate in Dallas.

Jason Sabo — from Ojo Scooter, which has a motorized scooter with a seat — was the only representative from a company that appeared Wednesday. He spoke in favor of the extension and said the company is in favor of more regulations to provide better sidewalk accessibility, which has been a concern for disability advocates.

Rogers said the fee per scooter better regulated companies to only put out scooters they thought people would use and reduce “some of the clutter” on the sidewalks.

“We would like to ensure that the right number of scooters are in the city at the right time,” Rogers said.

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