We appreciate an effort to increase regulations on electric scooter riders using Tulsa’s roads and sidewalks, but think the proposed ordinance should be tougher.
An ordinance amendment discussed by the City Council on Wednesday would set the minimum age for using scooters at 16 and would make existing rules concerning sidewalk usage more specific.
Current ordinances prohibit sidewalk use of scooters in “business districts,” because those areas have greater pedestrian traffic. The proposed ordinance defines the sidewalk ban as applying to downtown’s Inner-Dispersal Loop, Cherry Street and Brookside.
The ordinance’s authors considered making the minimum age 18, and we think the City Council should go with that instead.
We concede there’s a dissonance in saying you’re old enough to drive a car, but you can’t drive a scooter. There’s just as much dissonance in an ordinance that says 16-year-olds can drive a scooter that plainly says on its instructions can only be used by people who are at least 18.
Either way there’s confusion, so what’s in the best interest of the safety of 16- and 17-year-olds? If the scooter companies don’t want children using their product, why should the city allow it?
We also think the ordinance should include language that prohibits their use in any situation that is clearly unsafe. We’ve seen people driving the devices in rainstorms, in the middle of the night and on fast-moving, high-traffic streets. Police need a broadly worded ordinance they can use to stop people who don’t have sense enough to protect themselves.
Whichever way the council goes, we’d be interested in hearing how the city plans to enforce the new ordinance. Tulsa has already had one scooter fatality, which resulted in child neglect and negligent homicide charges against a woman. She was allegedly riding the vehicle with her 5-year-old son against traffic on Riverside Drive when the tragedy occurred.
We’re not convinced having a tougher ordinance will prevent another tragedy, but it certainly won’t if we have a new rule that no one enforces.