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Clemson considers e-scooter ordinance, ban on rentals

Clemson e-scooter downtown

A student walks an electric scooter through downtown Clemson on Nov. 22, 2022. Caitlin Herrington/Staff

CLEMSON — City Council is considering options to address what one councilman called an “explosion” of electric scooters.

During its Nov. 21 meeting, council heard a proposed ordinance from Clemson Police Chief Jorge Campos with options for keeping e-scooters off busy sidewalks and prioritizing pedestrian safety.

Unlike the city of Anderson or other universities where electric scooters — which can travel at speeds up to 25 mph — are rented by the minute, Clemson’s issue comes from students who own the scooters and use them as daily transportation from campus.

The proposed ordinance would require riders of electric scooters, bicycles and electric bicycles to yield to pedestrians, keep off certain sidewalks and roads with speed limits over 25 mph and adhere to “dismount zones.”

The fines for violations in the proposed ordinance begin at $75 for a first violation and go up to $500 on a fourth. It creates a lighting requirement to make operators visible from at least 100 feet away from sunset to sunrise. It would also prohibit rentals, which council voiced concerns about.

“Nobody has been able to figure out how to stop the renting and dumping of these devices all over the place,” Campos said. “The ones that are owned now … they park them anywhere.”

Campos consulted with the Clemson University Police Department and Riley Wright, a student senator, to ensure the city's potential policies would align with issues and regulations on campus.

The university police sent out an email with guidelines for "micro-mobility devices” on Nov. 10 and told students warnings would be issued for “careless and reckless operation and referring cases to the Office of Community and Ethical Standards” beginning Nov. 15.

As of Dec. 10, CUPD will begin issuing citations for these safety infractions. When it comes to traffic violations, the university is currently limited to state laws, Lt. Cortney Wright said. Some of those basic fines — failure to yield or disregarding a stop sign — begin at $230.

“I mean, we're going to consider these devices, as far as enforcement goes, as vehicles. You have to follow all enforced traffic laws in doing so,” Wright said. “You can't drive a car on the sidewalk any more than you can ride a bicycle.”

While the university searches for ways to enforce its limited codes, the main concern remains safety as Clemson adapts to this relatively new problem, he added. Injury reports on electric scooters nationwide have increased by 400 percent in the last four years, Wright said.

“We've had multiple students that have been transported by EMS due to injuries they sustained while riding their scooters,” Wright said. “Often, it’s just themselves. Because there's no helmet regulations for these things, when something does happen, oftentimes it's quite bad.”

Follow Caitlin on Twitter @CatHerrington

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