Council to consider more escooter regulations

Escooter riding could be banned on the waterfornt walkway

To address public safety concerns, the council may ban escooters on the waterfront walkway.
To address public safety concerns, the council may ban escooters on the waterfront walkway.

On Sept. 18 the Hoboken City Council will decide if electric scooters should be permitted on the waterfront after it introduced an ordinance amendment banning their use there on Sept. 4.

Because the amendment banning waterfront access hasn’t been adopted yet, escooters provided by Lime as part of the city’s six-month pilot program can still be ridden along the waterfront, while Ojo, the city’s other escooter provider, has instituted a self-imposed ban along the waterfront.

Proponents of the ordinance amendment believe “joyriding,” primarily by non-Hoboken residents who use the escooter sharing system to ride along the waterfront walkway, make pedestrians feel unsafe.

“In addition to sidewalks which have a high density of pedestrian use, the City Council believes that both the portions of the Waterfront Walkway… and Hoboken’s parks also have a high-density pedestrian use, and in particular, the latter which has an even higher proportion of children, and thus the City Council believes eScooter riding should be limited further in these areas,” states the ordinance amendment, sponsored by Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher.

Safety concerns

While Lime escooters are permitted along the waterfront, riders can go only 8 mph rather than the state’s maximum of 18 mph. The city has required the vendor to “geofence” the waterfront walkway.

This speed change has has a positive impact, according to some residents, but it doesn’t affect privately owned escooters. The amended ordinance would control private escooters by banning all escooter riding on the waterfront.

Although 70 percent of Lime users are Hoboken residents, the council believes those riding on the waterfront, especially near the skate park and Sinatra Park, are likely riders from outside Hoboken, using the system for recreational purposes.

This means they are probably unfamiliar with the city’s regulations surrounding escooters, and prone to violations.

At an Aug. 7 council meeting, the original ban was postponed at the behest of some residents who felt the speed change had helped. Fisher, who sponsored the ordinance, requested several initiatives be implemented before the Sept. 4 meeting, “which have not yet materialized,” according to the ordinance.

They include a pilot for protected bike lanes on the remaining portions of Sinatra Drive along the waterfront; updated markings and signage for the protected bike lanes on the lower waterfront; and ridership, enforcement, and incident statistics for the waterfront to be provided to the council in order to better understand usage and enforcement needs along the waterfront.

The ban

The new proposed ordinance amendment identifies the waterfront walkway as an area where no one will be permitted to ride an escooter.

Specifically on the portion of the Waterfront Walkway that begins at the North End of Sinatra Park running south to the municipal border, “including but not limited to the promenade area adjacent to Blue Eyes Café.”

It also bans riding on the portion of the waterfront walkway that begins at the south end of the skateboard park and runs north to the city’s border.

The ban does not include bike lanes or the roadways along the walkway. It states that riders must dismount before getting on the sidewalk or waterfront promenade but can walk escooters on the sidewalk.

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