Scooter users seek balance of convenience, safety


INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – It’s going to be a busy weekend in Indianapolis, with the Brickyard 400 and Indianapolis Colts home opener expected to bring thousands of people to the downtown area.

The extra people downtown will likely bring more scooter traffic to Indianapolis streets. 

The scooters have become a permanent fixture after the city formally approved bringing them back on Tuesday.

Scooter providers Lime and Bird both have rental scooters back on the streets.

The city sent cease-and-desist letters to both companies when the scooters were set loose on downtown streets in June.

Since then, the City-County Council established a fee schedule and application process. Both companies removed their scooters and waited for their applications to be approved before relaunching operations. 

With those new rules in place, some people still have concerns.

“We were on the sidewalk, and I know we are supposed to be on the street, but then when there’s no bike lane, it’s kind of hard to figure out which one’s best,” said scooter ride Abby Johnson.

Johnson and her boyfriend were zipping around Massachusetts Avenue on scooters this week.

While Johnson said she is thrilled to see teh rental scooters available for use age, she admitted that making the decision to ride one leaves her choosing between convenience and safety.

“It’s scary because there are supposed to be more bike lanes, and if we’re supposed to be in the bike lanes, and there are none, it’s kind of hard, and I’m scared to death of getting hit,” said Johnson.  “But these things are really convenient.” 

With many riders taking to the streets in the busiest areas of downtown, business owners who spoke with News 8 were divided in their views on the return of the scooters.

“It’s a good thing for me personally when I have staff coming in that doesn’t have a car,” said Roger Roberts, the general manager of Louie’s Dive Bar. “Sometimes, it’s difficult to get staff here on time, especially when there’s traffic or special events going on. I’ve had them say ‘Hey man, I borrowed a scooter, I got here to work on time.’ It’s helped that way.”

Roberts said that while the scooters are good for business, he has some concerns about their safety.

“I see some people, they have a few drinks and they got on the scooter and ride around town, and then the cops try to get through or somebody is trying to get through and they are honking at them,” said Roberts. “They’re not paying attention to what’s going on. I’ve seen the cops get on the loud horn after them.” 

Roberts said he and other downtown business owners have already anticipated what he considers the most significant issue: a restaurant’s liability after a person drinks and hops on a scooter. 

“In the restaurant industry, what we do here, that’s part of our job, too, is to make sure that nobody is getting overserved,” said Roberts. “My staff is very, very knowledgeable on what signs to look for so we make sure nobody gets overserved. No matter if they are driving a vehicle, riding a bicycle, we don’t want anybody to get hurt.” 

If you do choose to ride a scooter, make sure to wear a helmet and not to ride on sidewalks or trails. Riders are only allowed to operate scooters on the streets in designated bike lanes. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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