CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston City Council could soon vote to permanently ban all motor scooters from being rented in the city.
“It shall be unlawful to rent, offer to rent, or make available for rent a motor scooter for use on a public right-of-way," the proposed ordinance reads. “Any person found in violation of this ordinance shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction, shall be subject to a maximum fine of $50.”
Those right-of-ways include roads, public sidewalks, city-owned parking areas, and city-owned athletic fields.
The ordinance is going up for its first reading on Tuesday, and it comes more than a year after the city put a temporary ban on renting scooters. That temporary ban is set to expire in a few weeks.
In August 2018, the scooters started popping up in the city, and the Charleston Police Department threatened to impound them. The next day, they popped up in Mount Pleasant.
“It is the intent of the Traffic and Transportation Committee and the City Council to prohibit the rental and use of motorized scooters within the City of Charleston until such time that the City’s right of way infrastructure can safely accommodate such a mobility apparatus,” the ordinance reads.
Anyone who breaks the proposed law would face a misdemeanor charge and a fine of up to $50.
But the Charleston Director of Transportation Keith Benjamin says the city is open to new transportation options.
“We as a city have to make a decision of what our modes of options should be that help us create a more livable city," he says. "That doesn’t mean every single option fits for Charleston, but we can’t ignore the shift in the transportation landscape and we have to be clear about how we address mitigation, and that’s going to take all kinds of transportation. That’s not just a car.”
Lauren and Brant Cherny, who are parents of a College of Charleston student, are divided on the issue.
“I do think you should have them. I think they’re really helpful for students from getting from class to class," Lauren Cherny says. "I think they’re helpful for people who don’t have bicycles and don’t have cars. It’s expensive to have a car here, so I think scooters would be really fun to have here.”
““I don’t think it’s a good idea, so I’m going to have to disagree with my wife,” Brant Cherny says. "I like the bike thing better, and I think the scooters will just create a whole new set of problems.”
Student Rachel Cherny wishes the band would expire.
“I think scooters are really helpful for getting around," she says. "I definitely think bikes are a little bit easier and might be a little safer too, but I don’t think they should be banned from Charleston.”
But the Cherny family was not the only ones visiting the city with a questions about the scooters.
“During the touristy season, you’re going to have a lot of people on these sidewalks," Brad Fisher, who is visiting from Indiana, said. "The sidewalks are uneven. Somebody drives by with one of these scooters, there’s a chance somebody could hit a bump… knock into somebody else. There’s a traffic flow thing that could be a potential here.”
If Tuesday night’s first reading is approved, it does not become law immediately. The ordinance must come back at least one more time before it becomes law.
“There’s a lot of other microbility options that we do have currently in the city, but also can explore,” Benjamin says. "We have over 30,000 members of our Holy Spokes bike share that has been extremely popular.”