SAN ANTONIO — Fast, furious and able to pass pedestrians in a single bound.
Ann Howell is visiting the Alamo City from Wichita Falls, and said she was nearly hit by a scooter multiple times.
“I thought he was going this way, and the last second he went that way and I was like, 'Aaaaagh!’” Howell said. “I just froze.”
Scooters have been a hot topic in San Antonio ever since they rolled into town. There have been major campaigns to remind users of how they should be used, and some local hotspots banning them altogether.
“It’s been a pretty controversial issue,” said District 9 City Councilman John Courage. “Pretty soon after a few got here, they started multiplying like rabbits and, before you know it, downtown seemed to be inundated with scooters.”
That’s why scooters were on the agenda at the City Council meeting once again on Thursday.
“Our goal today was to try to set up a framework on how we can continue safely operating scooters in the city, but also come up with some reasonable limitations and requirements for them to operate,” Courage said.
He said one prong of the city’s plan is to put out a request for proposals from the scooter companies on how they can best operate in San Antonio. City council will also give the companies proposals on what they think would make it safer for citizens to ride scooters.
The council's plan was to give the companies until the fall to submit their proposals.
However, Courage said he thought one issue was something city leaders needed to address now: Scooters' propensity to overrun pedestrians on sidewalks.
“I and some of the other council people have heard so many concerns from pedestrians downtown and in our neighborhoods that we wanted to get those off the sidewalks even sooner,” he said.
Courage proposed an amendment that was passed on Thursday, banning scooters from sidewalks and forcing them into the streets.
City council is allowing scooter companies 30 days to revise their safety plans and inform customers before the ban goes into effect.
“We’re giving them about 30 days to make the adjustments in their plan and allow them to add to their software the instructions for operating on the streets, and at the same time give us the opportunity to adjust our public safety officers, other city employees—to help us move those off of our sidewalks and onto our streets,” Courage said.
Some residents say they support the ban, but are concerned with people riding scooters on sharing the road with their four-wheeled counterparts.
“Sidewalks are walkways for people, for pedestrians,” resident Gilbert Saenz said. “But, being on the street...if you make a mistake, you’re going to hit a car, not a person.”
Courage said that it will be a learning curve as the city adjusts to the change.
“It’s always a system of educating the public (and) educating drivers of our cars on the streets, our buses and educating the operators of these vehicles on how they need to understand how to operate safely on a street,” he said.