Rules of the road

Regulations surrounding a new mode of transportation

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The Hoboken Police Department will be in charge of enforcing the new regulations surrounding E-scooter use.
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Electric scooters hit city streets this week. Earlier this month Hoboken passed new regulations on how they can be used.
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The Hoboken Police Department will be in charge of enforcing the new regulations surrounding E-scooter use.
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Electric scooters hit city streets this week. Earlier this month Hoboken passed new regulations on how they can be used.

Hoboken will be the first city to launch an e-scooter sharing program after Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill on Monday, May 13, authorizing the use of e-scooters in New Jersey.

Lime, a San Francisco based e-scooter and e-bike sharing company, launched its e-scooter pilot program in Hoboken this week as did Ojo Scooters by P3GM. The two providers in the city’s new e-scooter sharing pilot programs will end in late fall.

The e-scooter sharing pilots will allow residents to use two variations of electric scooters, with Lime’s dockless Lime-S scooters (a roughly 50-pound scooter, which you stand on) and P3GM’s operating Ojo scooters, which you sit on, more like a lightweight low-speed moped, that will use the JerseyBike bike-share stations for docking.

Last month, the Hoboken City Council approved an ordinance allowing e-scooters in its bike lanes.

“Governor Phil Murphy and the New Jersey legislature helped secure a more reliable, affordable, and accessible transportation future for Garden State residents, and Lime is ready to get rolling,” said Phil Jones, senior director of East Coast Government and Strategic Partnerships at Lime.

Restrictions

This May, the council passed an ordinance outlining the rules and regulations all-electric scooter users will have to abide by, and the Police Department will have to enforce.

According to the ordinance, people riding electric scooters must obey all official traffic control signals and signs, must travel in the same direction as vehicular traffic, and must stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.

E-scooters can be ridden only on the road and in bicycle lanes where provided, and only one person can be on the e-scooter at a time. Scooters are not to go faster than 18 mph, and riders are not allowed to cling to vehicles or ride, start, or stop the scooters on sidewalks.

When parking, e-scooter users must put them against the curb, or building, or in the designated parking area to make sure that they do not obstruct the public right of way or pedestrian traffic.

They can be parked and locked at bike racks in the city, but they will be considered abandoned if they are left in the same spot for seven days in a row without being used. They can also be considered abandoned if the electric scooter has deflated tires, damaged or missing parts, which make it inoperable; if 75 percent of it is rusted; or “it is found in any other condition in which an electric scooter would be deemed abandoned.”

If deemed abandoned, the city’s Transportation and Parking Department will put an adhesive notice on the electric scooter to notify its owner that it’s been deemed abandoned and will be disposed of if not moved. The owner will have 14 days to mover the electric scooter.

E-scooter users are also not allowed to carry anything which keeps them from keeping both hands on the handlebars.

At night, electric scooters must have a lamp in front and back, which can be seen from at least 500 feet. They are not allowed to have whistles or sirens but can have a bell to warn pedestrians.

Those using the new electric scooter-sharing pilot programs must also not rent the scooters on behalf of friends. Those who make the reservation must be the ones who use the scooters.

Anyone who doesn’t abide by these regulations is subject to a $100 fine in municipal court.

NJ Transit announced electric scooters are also not allowed on trains, buses, or on the light rail. They are also not permitted inside the Hoboken terminal waiting room, on the concourse, or on rail platforms.

“You can’t run them down with foot patrol, and it’s dangerous to pursue folks in a squad car.” — Lieutenant John Petrosino

Police on patrol

Before Gov. Murphy passed the law, the Police Department began educating its officers on electric scooters, the new pilot programs, and the rules and regulations surrounding them in order to better understand how to handle future enforcement.

Police Chief Ken Ferrante said that because this is a new area of enforcement, there will be a bit of a learning curve for officers in the department. Lieutenant John Petrosino, the department’s traffic commander, said there are some gray areas for which they are waiting clarification from the state, such as whether or not e-scooter riders under the influence can be charged with a DWI because e-scooters are classified as a vehicles under state law.

Despite this classification, e-scooter users do not need a license or registration to own or operate an electric scooter.

One way the police department and the city will try to curtail the issue of possible drunk scooting is by exploring limiting the scooter-sharing service between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Thursday through Sunday.

Ferrante said when it comes to enforcing the city’s regulations surrounding electric scooters, including ensuring they obey traffic signals, that primarily officers on motorcycles and bicycles will be most able to stop and summons e-scooter users.

“You can’t run them down with foot patrol, and it’s dangerous to pursue folks in a squad car,” Petrosino said.

Petrosino added that it will be much easier for officers to enforce the no-e-scooter-on-the-sidewalk rule than it is for the department handling cyclists on city sidewalks because the law is clear cut, while the bicycle ordinance states that bikes can be on sidewalks if traveling at walking speed.

“It’s much more detailed and clear cut, so when we do see scooters on sidewalks it’s totally restricted,” Petrosino said. “The bicycle ordinance is a little convoluted.”

For update on this and other stories, check hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com