Electric scooters whizzing down the street, haphazardly dropped on street corners, and abandoned in parking lots and parks have become ubiquitous sights in Dallas.
Last week, Dallas police announced that officers will begin enforcing city ordinances regulating scooter use in entertainment districts and downtown.
“The overall goal is so nobody gets injured,” said Dallas Police Department Deputy Chief Thomas Castro.
So far officers have issued just under 20 citations, Castro estimated. Violators of the ordinance can be fined up to $200.
Dallas city ordinances state that electric scooters may not be ridden on sidewalks or public trails not for bicycles, riders 17 and under must wear a helmet, there may only be one rider per scooter unless it is designed for multiple riders, and that scooters on roadways must obey traffic laws.
Police are watching for riders on sidewalks in heavy pedestrian traffic areas and scooters in the street ridden against traffic, Castro said.
“We see that kind of behavior in Deep Ellum a lot,” he said, adding that DPD has had complaints about scooters on the Katy Trail and other pathways designed for walking and running.
The announcement was greeted by support and outcry on social media. Some people posting expressed hope that the city would do more or even ban the vehicles. Others lamented the lack of bike lanes and places on the road for scooters to travel safely.
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Last year, a 24-year-old Dallas man died after falling off a Lime scooter.
Because electric scooters do not have docking stations, they can be left and picked up anywhere, which makes them easy to find and use but also to leave anywhere. On Instagram, users post images of themselves grinning, showing off and triumphant after a day of touring around.
But among the happy photos are images of scooters crammed in trees, piled in trashcans and thrown in bodies of water. In June, the Multnomah County Sheriff's Department dredged 57 scooters from the Willamette River in Portland, Ore. The Instagram account @birdgraveyard, devoted to images of damaged or destroyed scooters, has 100,000 followers.
Amid the concern and frustration, a new study also suggests that because of the aluminum parts and lithium batteries in scooters, the manufacturing process makes them higher in emissions than other forms of transportation like biking and taking the bus.