(Image via Pittsburgh City Paper)
By Ryan Deto
PITTSBURGH — Unlike most other states, electric scooters (which are motorized stand-up scooters with handlebars and a platform that riders stand on) are illegal in Pennsylvania. They don’t currently fit under any classification of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code, so while private versions can be seen zipping around some city streets, Pennsylvania cities don’t have the shareable e-scooters available in most other major U.S. cities.
But Pittsburgh will soon have shareable e-scooters thanks to a provision written into the recently signed Pennsylvania budget bill. Pittsburgh has been granted a pilot program for scooter share, and, according to the provision, only a city of the second class can carry out the pilot. Pittsburgh is the only second class city in Pennsylvania. The pilot will last two years.
Karina Ricks, the director of the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, told Pittsburgh City Paper that the low-speed scooter pilot program will be part of a larger micro-mobility pilot program the city will announce next week. She says she is grateful to the state legislature and the governor for granting the city of Pittsburgh the opportunity to test e-scooter share.
“We need to take an all-of-the-above kind of approach for mobility,” Ricks said. “We have people that don’t have access to high-frequency transit, or access to a vehicle. It is not in our best interest as a city to throw up barriers to things that might have utility.”
Ricks said 25 percent of automobile trips are less than a mile, and believes the city needs to do more to give people more options for short trips, and e-scooters can be a part of that.
She also understands that e-scooters have become a source of consternation in many cities, with scooters left all over sidewalks and inconvenient locations, and people zooming past pedestrians on sidewalks. However, she is hopeful Pittsburgh’s pilot will address those issues. For one, Pittsburgh’s e-scooters must be ridden on streets, bike lanes, or trails, and are prohibited on sidewalks. “We have narrow sidewalks, and the feeling for our city is that [e-scooters] should not be on the sidewalk at all,” Ricks said.
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