Monday's City Council action on scooters and other motorized vehicles appears to be a piecemeal solution at best.
The council essentially relegated youths under 16 to riding electronic scooters, including the SPIN rental scooters, to local greenway trails. It did so by redefining "motorized bicycle," effectively banning youths from operating motorized scooters on city streets unless they have drivers' licenses. It's already illegal to operate them on sidewalks.
At the same time, the council effectively banned residents from riding certain handicapped-accessible motorized scooters, such as Segways, on city streets.
City code previously considered a motorized bicycle a two- or three-wheeled device that has "fully operative pedal capable of propulsion by human power, an automatic transmission and a motor with a cylinder capacity of not more than 50 cubic centimeters." They also had to produce less than two gross brake horsepower.
The amendment clarified some language and removed "fully operative pedal capable of propulsion by human power" and increased the two gross brake horsepower qualification to three.
Before the vote, Jefferson City resident Dorothy Walker asked the council to consider the impact it could have on the visually impaired who may not be able to get driver's licenses but use motorized vehicles like two- or three-wheeled electric-powered scooters.
The council addressed her concerns and agreed something should be done to assist visually impaired or otherwise disabled residents, but agreed to pass the current bill.
Have there been problems with motorized scooters used by handicapped residents? If so, we haven't heard of them.
As for youths riding SPIN scooters, the biggest problem to our knowledge is many people still ride them on the sidewalks, which was never allowed. The city has responded by putting prominent signs on the scooters to make that clear.
The council owes these segments of the population a more thorough discussion of the issue, along with proposed solutions.
Scooters — ones used for both recreation and handicap accessibility — have become regular sights in Jefferson City. But they also pose safety issues that should not be ignored.
The council needs to develop a more comprehensive policy to keep motorists safe, while still trying to accommodate these modes of transportation.