NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Mayor David Briley has recommended that Metro Council end the scooter pilot program and remove scooters from the streets of Nashville.
Briley announced the recommendation Friday on Twitter, one day before his 30-day deadline went into effect that called for scooter companies to address concerns.
“I think it’s pretty clearly a failed experiment. The way it’s worked out here in Nashville has just not been good for safety of people on the sidewalks, people using them, and it’s really just not worked out," Briley told NewsChannel 5.
Today, I notified Nashville's seven scooter companies of my decision to end the pilot period and ban e-scooters from our streets. We have seen the public safety and accessibility costs that these devices inflict, and it is not fair to our residents for this to continue. pic.twitter.com/1IBmZRsRgF— Mayor David Briley (@MayorBriley) June 21, 2019
In response to the original deadline, scooter operators released a list of 19 policies to avoid the proposed ban that included the need to "reduce clutter" and be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. On Friday, scooter company, Spin, released its own policies, asking the city to regulate the amount by cutting the number of scooters by 50%.
Ultimately, Briley said he didn't feel proposal "goes far enough to protect the safety of our residents and visitors."
“I wanted to give the businesses a chance to present something that could work for the city. Although they made some progress, they just didn’t get quite far enough for me and I think it’s the right thing to do to get them off the streets right now," Briley said.
He continued saying, "Folks don’t really understand how dangerous they can be, and it very quickly can go from something that is very fun, very quick to pick up, to something that can change your life forever.”
"Lime has been responsive and proactive in addressing Mayor Briley's concerns," Todd O'Boyle, Director of Government Affairs at Lime, said. "Unfortunately suspending scooters for 90 days deprives residents of a widely-used affordable and clean transportation option that expands economic opportunity and supports local businesses. Lime has and will continue to put safety first through our First Ride Academy initiative, in-app messaging, full-time rebalancing teams, helmet giveaways and more. We look forward to continuing conversations with Mayor Briley and the Metro Council about how we can continue to serve Nashvillians."
"Uber is deeply committed to the safety of our customers and all who share the road," an Uber spokesperson said. "We are focused on a comprehensive approach to road safety - one that focuses on people, products and infrastructure - and hope to continue conversations with Mayor Briley and the Metro Council." They added that they have provided safety resources and made free helmets available in Nashville, and that they're partnering with Walk Bike Nashville.
Since electric scooters arrival in Nashville, there have been a myriad of scooter-related incidents.
Back in May, 26-year-old Brady Gaulk died in a collision with an SUV near Demonbreun Street and 14th Avenue South. Police said Gaulke was traveling on the sidewalk when he turned left into the road and into the path of a Nissan Pathfinder. He died two days later.
Following his death, his family started a petition, demanding that the Metro Council take action to ban scooters in Nashville.
Lyft officials released the following statement:
"Lyft has always been committed to providing sustainable, convenient and affordable transportation options. We are disappointed by Mayor Briley’s recommendation to remove scooters, whose popularity have helped reduce congestion and reduce transportation inequities. Walk Bike Nashville’s study shows that more than 60,000 users have taken at least five trips and 1.8 million scooter rides have been taken in the last year alone. In our previous discussions with Mayor Briley, we’ve communicated our support for additional scooter policies, education and street infrastructure and believe this approach is the best solution for residents. As the employer of more than 700 Middle Tennesseeans, we will continue our commitment to the community and we remain ready to work with Metro Nashville leaders on steps forward that work for all"
Walk Bike Nashville also responded to the proposed ban in part, saying:
"...Mayor Briley’s reaction to the challenges scooters pose for our city is disappointing,” said Walk Bike Nashville Executive Director Nora Kern. “It’s unfortunate that the Mayor doesn’t express the same urgency for eliminating pedestrian crashes or expanding transportation choices in our city. Nashville should be implementing innovative programs and roadway designs to reduce traffic and eliminate severe traffic injuries and deaths, rather than simply banning new ways to get around the city. So far Metro has failed to enforce existing regulations and failed to build the necessary infrastructure, like the core bike lanes in downtown. The city bears equal responsibility for many of the problems posed by scooters."
Walk Bike Nashville supports updating regulations for scooters, banning scooters from blocking sidewalks, limiting the number of scooters allowed in the downtown and overall, raising fees to cover expanded Metro staffing to assist with enforcement of existing regulations, and moving towards a limited operator model through an RFP process (as proposed by the Mayor). A full list of our recommendations and our recent report on scooter usage is on our website."
Jesse Knutson will have more on this developing story on NewsChannel 5 at 6 p.m., including an interview with Mayor Briley. We'll post clips from that interview online as soon as they're available.