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February 26, 2019

Pennsylvania state reps propose new bill legalizing electric scooters

Transportation Scooters
lime electric scooters limebike/Facebook

This photo shows a scooter owned by bike- and ride-share company Lime. Over the weekend, some of Lime's scooters being stored at a warehouse in the region made it appear that the company had begun operations in Philadelphia. But it was a false alarm.

Pennsylvania state representatives proposed a new house bill Tuesday aimed at legalizing electric, low-speed scooters across the state.

The news comes a day before Philadelphia City Council is scheduled to hold a hearing Wednesday about Lime’s dockless scooter program, during what is suddenly a big week for alternative transit in Pennsylvania.

“Make your voice heard by attending the meeting and letting the City Council and Mayor know how scooter sharing will improve how you get around the city,” the company said in a release about the council hearing, which begins at 10 a.m. on Feb. 27.

Last month, City Councilman Derek Green told the Philadelphia Tribune he wants to explore the scooter idea, and said the hearings would explore whether the scooters are a good fit for the city.

Philadelphia City Council passed an ordinance last June establishing regulations regarding obtaining permits, safety standards, and parking standards for vehicles like scooters. The ordinance effectively paves the way for Lime’s scooters to be used in Philadelphia — once they’re legal in Pennsylvania.

In that department, Rep. Greg Rothman, R-87th, of Cumberland County and Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-201st, of Philadelphia, cosponsored a new House bill Tuesday to move towards legalizing Lime-style scooters across the state.

The bill, H.B. 631, proposes adding “electric low-speed scooters” to the “special vehicles and pedestrians” provision of the state’s vehicle laws.

In a memo last month, Rothman and Kinsey defined electric, low-speed scooters as:

“Small electric or human powered vehicles with two or three wheels, handlebars and a floorboard that can be stood upon while riding. They weigh less than 100 pounds and go no more than twenty miles per hour on level ground.”

“The scooters provide innovative, flexible, and low-cost transportation to tens of millions of riders across the country,” Rothman and Kinsey wrote. “They help relieve traffic congestion, pollution and stress by reducing car trips and increasing access to public transit.”

If this all sounds a little familiar, it might be because some Lime scooters being stored at a warehouse in Northeast Philly were accidentally activated last September. The scooters appeared as available on the Lime app, but it turned out to be a false alarm.

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