Staff brought the proposal to the BOMA on Nov. 26 as a short-term pilot program to help ease congestion in certain areas, such as Cool Springs, and to give residents a transportation alternative.
“One of the most common concerns we hear in our community is around transportation and mobility, and so, this is something to look at—to at least consider,” City Administrator Eric Stuckey said. “We’re not asking you to vote or implement anything tonight, and we’re not that far along. But before we spend more time and effort looking [into] it, we want to get your feedback and guidance on where we should go and if we should continue.”
Existing city regulations prohibit motorized vehicles from being used on sidewalks, with exceptions for the use of Segways in guided tours through the city. Franklin staff researched peer cities, including Brentwood, Memphis, Knoxville and Nashville.
According to city staff, while Nashville’s experience with scooters has been a “cautionary tale,” scooters could still serve as a last-mile mode of transportation, meaning riders could use them as an alternative to cars for short trips or after taking the bus to their final destination.
“Nashville did it wrong,” Alderperson Beverly Burger said during the meeting. “They allowed the scooters to come into their community without regulation, it ran amok, and they had lots of issue[s]. So when people think the word “scooter” here, they think ... about Nashville.”
However, Burger, who serves on the city’s Sustainability Commission, said she would not allow that level of unregulated scooter use in Franklin and would be in favor of a pilot program only in the city’s corporate centers, such as in Cool Springs and the Williamson County Medical Center.
“There’s going to be a lot of new mobility inventions coming up in the future, and we’re going to see a lot more that we’ve never even thought,” she said. “I’m not married to scooters, but my big thing is transportation and trying to get these cars out of the Cool Springs area between 8 a.m.-5 p.m.”
Following the presentation from staff, a number of residents spoke out against the potential scooter program, expressing concerns about safety and a lack of regulation for violators.
“I can’t support this,” Vice Mayor Dana McLendon said. “I don’t govern by opinion poll, and I seldom go on social media, but in my neighborhood, it was 100% against. Maybe some of those people are misinformed and maybe not, but this strikes me as a cure worse than the condition.”
During the meeting, Burger challenged the BOMA to find other methods of transportation to help congestion in the area.
“I would expect all of us on this board to go to work and find other alternatives because I represent a ward that is bogged down in traffic every single day, and I’m as tired of it as everyone else is,” Burger said. “If we don’t do it, let’s try something else.”