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Indiana legislature considers rules for electric scooters

Posted at 5:09 PM, Jan 31, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS — After some confusion about the rules for riding electric scooters around cities in Indiana, the state legislature may be close to getting some answers.

Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, introduced House Bill 1649 to get some of those answers down in the Indiana code.

The bill would clearly define the electric scooters, lay down a few rules about what the scooters need to be equipped with and name one specific place where they can be ridden.

Electric scooters would be defined as devices that

  • Weigh less than 100 pounds
  • Are designed to travel on no more than three wheels
  • Have handlebars and a floorboard that the rider stands on
  • Is powered by an electric motor that can power the device at no more than 20 mph
  • Are not motor-driven cycles, motor vehicle, or motorcycle.

“Whenever we have some type of new device like this, it’s helpful to get something into code that actually describes the device,” Eberhart said.

The bill also mandates a few safety features on each scooter. According to the bill, if anybody is riding outside in the dark, the scooters must have the following safety features:

  • A lamp on the front with a white light visible from at least five hundred feet
  • A lamp on the rear with a red light or a red reflector visible from at least five hundred feet
  • A brake.

A Lime spokeswoman released the following statement about Eberhart’s bill:

We appreciate the work of Rep. Eberhart and commend the committee for their commitment to transportation innovation in Indiana. At Lime, safety is our top priority. Our safety campaign, Respect the Ride, reflects a more than $3 million investment to help empower people to exhibit safe and responsible riding and parking behaviors. Lime is committed to responsible operations, and will be compliant with all applicable rules and regulations.

The bill is pretty vague when it comes to exactly where people can ride the scooters, unlike the current Indianapolis ordinance. The city's current ordinance states that riders cannot use the scooters in the public right-of-way, like sidewalks.

The bill would make sure scooters can be ridden in bike lanes. It would prohibit cities or towns from creating ordinances that stop people from riding in lanes specifically for bicycles. Currently, Indianapolis riders are allowed to use the scooters in bike lanes.

Indianapolis code also states that the scooters can't be parked in loading zones, bus stops, shelters or on ramps leading to sidewalks.

The bill unanimously passed the House committee on Roads and Transportation. It will move to the full House.

Eberhart said he doesn’t hope to see a lot of legislation in the future concerning the electric scooters.

“I don’t like to restrict,” Eberhart said. “Whenever we see this new type of technology or something new that comes to the market, we need to be careful about how we put additional restrictions in. I would just caution folks to not do that. My bill is very broad. … It still allows the locals or municipalities to step in and put some common-sense restrictions or requirements in.”

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