Fayetteville City Council members unanimously reached a consensus this month that authorizes staff to finalize a shared active transportation system within the city.
The authorization means Fayetteville residents may soon have access to electric scooters in downtown and parts of the city. Off Road Self Balancing Scooter
There are several vehicles used for micro-mobility, but the city is focusing on powered bicycles and powered standing scooters, Taurus Freeman, assistant director of economic and community development, told council members during a Jan. 3 work session.
Micro-mobility “is a transportation program that is ideal for short distance trips providing users the ability to conveniently use alternative vehicles located in their area,” according to city documents.
The city was approached by two companies in 2018 that were interested in providing a shared biking program in Fayetteville, Freeman said.
“The city declined to move forward at that time due to waiting for the completion of our bicycle and pedestrian plan,” Freeman said.
Fayetteville State University moved forward with a one-year pilot program in August 2018, he said.
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Mayor Mitch Colvin said one of the vendors preferred operating in cities with adopted bike plans, which the city has since adopted.
Colvin said the city is using bond funds, too, to allow for “additional bike lanes and other enhancements to execute sidewalk and connectivity.”
Freeman said representatives from the bike company approached the city again in 2021, and that’s when council members directed staff to develop an ordinance and get input from the Fayetteville Downtown Alliance and Cool Spring Downtown District, both of which work with local businesses.
Freeman said that based on survey comments from the Downtown Alliance, its board of directors was “not in total agreement” with the city having a micro-mobility program.
“However, their interpretation is somewhat different from what is being proposed,” he said.
A draft ordinance would not allow scooters or electric bicycles to be ridden on sidewalks, Freeman said.
A Facebook survey conducted by the Cool Spring Downtown District gathered more than a dozen with few “positive” responses, he said.
Colvin said he doesn’t think a Facebook post with 14 responses is “reflective of the bigger picture.”
“I know young people like it,” Colvin said. “It adds to the vibrancy.”
Peer cities already using micro-mobility programs include Raleigh, Durham, Winson-Salem, Greensboro, Greenville, Charlotte and Gastonia, according to city documents.
Councilwoman Kathy Jensen said that in 2018, she likely didn’t support the idea of allowing scooters in the city.
“My position hasn’t really changed, but I am trying to budge a little bit,” Jensen said.
Jensen’s concern is the use of the scooters on sidewalks.
“I’ve almost been run over by these being in other cities, bigger cities,” she said. “But I think I’m just putting it out there, I do not think they belong on the sidewalks. That’s my personal opinion, but I do think that we need to look at this and find a way to bring it to our downtown.”
Freeman said city staff will work on an ordinance that would address the sidewalk concerns, along with age requirements, helmet use, establishing boundaries for where the bikes and scooters can be located and whether or not a manager would be required on site.
Hours of operation, the number of vendors and vehicles in the city and enforcement and violations would also need to be ironed out in the city’s policy, he said.
Two of the vendors already expressing an interest in operating in Fayetteville are Spunk Scooter and Bird, according to city documents.
A local vendor has also expressed interest in operating downtown, Freeman said.
According to city documents, Spunk Scooter provides shared, freestanding, dockless standing electric scooters that have a maximum range of 30 miles and are battery-operated to charge “in a matter of seconds.”
The Spunk Scooter proposal states it is also in the process of investing in solar-powered stations to eliminate electricity for charging stations.
Spunk Scooter’s fees would be $1 to unlock the scooter, and 30 cents per minute. Day passes are also offered, and a low-income plan waives the unlock fee with 20 cents per minute cost for residents enrolled in or eligible for a state or federal assistance program.
According to Bird’s proposal, it is a standup electric vehicle-sharing company with vehicles having a 30-mile range, speeds of 15 miles per hour and a cost of $1 per ride plus a “per minute fee.”
Freeman said in moving forward, the city would need an ordinance first followed by a request for proposal process to select a vendor or vendors to provide the scooters in the city.
Councilman Mario Benavente made the motion directing city staff to finalize a shared transportation system plan for the city.
“We always talk about expanding our downtown, and this is a great way to do that,” Benavente said.
Scooter Electric Scooter Staff writer Rachael Riley can be reached at email@example.com or 910-486-3528.