The Ann Arbor City Council passed an ordinance Monday evening allowing e-scooters and e-bikes to be driven on sidewalks and parked in motor vehicle parking spaces.
The ordinance would also require e-vehicle and motorized personal mobility vehicle drivers to yield right of way to pedestrians.
The ordinance amended sections of Chapter 126 of the Unified Development Code of Title V of the Code of The City of Ann Arbor in respect to traffic.
In 2018, the city banned Bird e-scooters, seizing two dozen after they violated city parking ordinances. They were later replaced by the Spin scooters that are now in the city.
According to the ordinance, any vehicle that is not a motor vehicle and allows the transportation of at most two people is a personal mobility vehicle. These vehicles can be non-motorized, such as bikes or skateboards, but can also be run by single or multiple machines, such as electric scooters.
The ordinance grants drivers of personal mobility vehicles the same rights as pedestrians, while also preventing them from driving in a negligent manner and requiring them to give an audible signal to pedestrians before passing them.
The ordinance also gives the city the power to seize and impound these vehicles.
The ordinance was passed in an 8-3 vote and will be effective within 10 days.
Councilmember Ali Ramlawi, D-Ward 5, who voted against the ordinance, expressed concern about pedestrian safety risks posed by having motorized personal mobility vehicles on sidewalks, particularly due to the lack of regulation for the speeds of these devices.
“(Personal mobility vehicles) are not regulated for speed,” Ramlawi said. “I’ve heard from constituents who have had very bad collisions with these devices. The speeds are too much.”
Councilmember Linh Song, D-Ward 2, supported the ordinance and said that cities like Grand Rapids have regulated such vehicles safely.
“We know that there are communities nearby who use all these devices,” Song said. “If we want to talk about speed, skateboards go at speeds of 6 to 13 mph and we might be a little bit more used to that, and that is not too dissimilar to what we would see with scooters and bikes.”
Councilmember Erica Briggs, D-Ward 5, said that though there are concerns about the lack of speed regulations in the ordinance, the Transportation Commission believes that enforcement of regulations of these vehicles would be challenging.
“I think there is concern about speeds (of these vehicles),” Briggs said. “But I think (the ordinance) really has been wrestled with in the Transportation Commission. This is what the Transportation Commission has provided after wrestling with those issues and debating them at length for over three years.”
Daily Staff Reporter Navya Gupta can be reached at email@example.com.