MISSOULA – The City of Missoula will wait until next year before deciding if, and how, electric scooters will be allowed on local streets.
But city officials will press ahead with controls for private e-bikes. The city council and staff have been looking at the prospect of e-bikes and scooters coming to Missoula as an alternative mode of transportation.
The scooters are already becoming popular in other Northwest cities, although they’ve also come with problems.
A few weeks ago, Lime — one of the main players in the business of scooter sharing — brought some of the sporty cycles to the city for a demonstration. Lime hasn’t filed a permit application, but three other companies are expressing an interest.
However, at a public hearing in June, the idea of allowing bikes or scooters in the city generated a mixed response. Some favored the idea, but others were worried about conflicts and safety.
The city was working to develop ordinances that could have controlled the operation of e-bikes on commuter trails and right-of-ways.
During the council’s Public Works Committee meeting on Wednesday, council members expressed some concerns about enforcement, how to patch together a legal commuting route, conflicts with regular bikes and even the impacts on childhood obesity.
However, the committee scheduled a public hearing for August 12.
However, the council decided to wait before taking any action on scooters. Committee Chair Jordan Hess says the panel felt it was better to spend more time researching how other cities are handling scooter regulations.
The city points out that e-scooters remain as “non-motorized, non-standard vehicles” which aren’t allowed in the motorway unless a city gives express approval.