Ahead of possible Bird scooter service, Atlantic Beach officials discuss regulations

West Terminal Boulevard runs through a residential neighborhood in Atlantic Beach, where little traffic can be seen Tuesday afternoon. The town council is looking at side streets like these for a possible expansion of Bird shared scooters. (Mike Shutak photo)

ATLANTIC BEACH — Electric scooters may provide an alternative to cars to get around Atlantic Beach, but town officials want to be sure safety restrictions are in place.

The town council met for its regular meeting Monday in the town hall meeting room at 1010 West Fort Macon Road. During the meeting, the council received a report from town planner Julian Griffee on shared scooter services provided by Bird. These services came to the council’s attention at the June 10 work session, when Bird representatives gave the council a presentation on their service, providing electric scooters rentals for traveling short distances.

Mayor Trace Cooper confirmed at Monday’s meeting Bird is interested in bringing their service to Atlantic Beach.

“Julian has done a lot of research on this,” Mayor Cooper said.

Mr. Griffee said he’s done extensive research on shared scooter services while he was a graduate student at the University of Arizona.

“Municipalities have the ability to created a curtailed ordinance and regulations. The vast majorities of these (services) start as pilot programs that develop into fully fledged operations or are cut short,” he said.

According to Mr. Griffee, his research showed municipalities with shared scooter services regulated them through ordinances setting hours of operation, fees for the service providers, vehicle specifications and safety requirements.

The council seemed adamant about ensuring safety if the company were to expand to Atlantic Beach. Mayor Cooper said the scooters can be programmed to only operate in specific areas, and the council seemed to want to keep them away from the main roads, Highway 58 and the Atlantic Beach Causeway.

“Here, their use would be on our back streets,” the mayor said. “They would be (regulated) like our golf carts…We have to think not only about how to get around Atlantic Beach, but also into Atlantic Beach.”

Councilman Austin Waters said he isn’t in favor of allowing the scooters to be ridden on sidewalks, and he also wants to ensure helmets are required.

In other news at Monday’s meeting, the council unanimously adopted a resolution to commit matching funds for a $73,288 Coastal Area Management Act matching grant. The grant is intended to help pay for replacing the stairs and walkway at the public beach access on the east side of the DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton on West Fort Macon Road. The total cost of this project is $146,576.

Town planner Michelle Eitner said staff intend to apply for a 50% match. While this is a larger match than state officials require, she said the additional matching funds would help them be more competitive for a grant.

“This is the last beach access with stairs (to be replaced),” she said.

The council also unanimously adopted the town’s Coastal Area Management Act land-use plan, which is largely the same as the previous plan, but one of the previous eight goals was compressed to an action item under one of the remaining goals.  

The council also unanimously adopted the meeting’s consent agenda, including ratification of all actions taken by the council during prior electronic meetings, approval of a body camera grant application for the police department to N.C. Criminal Justice, approval for a proposal from Groundwater Management Associates to retrofit the water treatment plant and minutes from the June 1 joint council/planning board meeting, the June 10 council work session and the June 28 regular council meeting.

 

Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email mike@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.

(3) comments

David Collins

What could possibly go wrong by allowing those things to ride the roads ? Why the same problems that other cities and towns have experienced leading to their removal . Can’t anyone in A B read and comprehend ?

mpjeep

Greensboro, NC 7/29/21

Police said the crash involved a car and a moped.

Two people on the moped were seriously injured.

There is no word on what caused the crash.

David Collins

Regulate all you want . You can not regulate folks to use common sense . Anyone with a credit card , or access to a credit card ie shared use , can swipe and go . That includes youngsters that see them as play toys . When the things run out of juice they are often cast aside on the spot . A retriever vehicle locates them and returns them to a charging station for recharge . Charging station provided by who ?

So you will end up with basically children riding the roads that are already congested enough . You have already sold out to the golf cart folks and yes they are often piloted by children . Do not repeat the sin .

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