Sunset Valley City Council ponders regulations for dockless mobility devices such as scooters

Electric scooters have had a major impact on mobility in Austin since they were introduced in April 2018.

Electric scooters have had a major impact on mobility in Austin since they were introduced in April 2018.

Sunset Valley City Council broached the subject of shared mobility devices such as dockless scooters at their May 7 meeting, discussing how to handle the devices making their way into Sunset Valley from Austin. While no dockless scooter operation has formally launched in Sunset Valley, several council members said they had already seen the scooters in their city.

“Resistance is futile,” Mayor Pro Tem Ketan Kharod said at the meeting.

Council Member Rudi Rosengarten requested the item be on the meeting's agenda, and voiced concerns with the potential safety issues posed by discarded scooters, particularly those left on public walkways where residents with disabilities might find them a danger or hindrance. Rosengarten also said she was concerned about unsafe riding practices by users of the devices resulting in injury, citing a study by Austin Public Health and the Center for Disease Control.

“My daughter is a doctor, and she calls motorcycle riders...organ donors,” Rosengarten said. “Pretty soon, if these scooters aren’t regulated, I’ve got a feeling we’re going to have another way of getting organ donors.”

Council Member Melissa Gonzales said that Sunset Valley would benefit from waiting to formalize regulations until Austin had updated its own, considering that many users of shared mobility devices were likely to enter Sunset Valley without realizing they had left Austin, where the devices are ubiquitous. Austin City Council is scheduled to vote on new regulations for dockless mobility on May 23.

“I think it’s good for us to go slowly with this,” Gonzales said. “If we go slowly enough, we don’t have to invent the wheel.”

No action was taken regarding the shared mobility devices during the meeting. However, council members agreed on the need to have further discussions on the issue at upcoming meetings.
By Olivia Aldridge
Olivia is the reporter for Community Impact's Southwest Austin edition. She graduated from Presbyterian College with a bachelor's degree in English and creative writing in 2017. Olivia was a reporter and producer at South Carolina Public Radio in Columbia, South Carolina before joining Community Impact in Austin.


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