NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Mayor David Briley announced Friday that he is proposing a ban of electric scooters in Nashville.
In an interview, the Mayor said he started thinking about a ban when a local physical therapist was hit and killed on a scooter last month.
According to Metro Police, 26-year-old Brady Gaulke’s blood alcohol content was twice the legal limit and he was not obeying traffic laws when he was hit.
Briley said it’s up to both the rider and companies to be responsible.
“I think it’s clear that people are responsible for their own decisions, right? But the scooter companies, I think the way it works for them is that it ends up with a lot of them placed outside bars and restaurants in the core of the city,” he told News 2. “We have people leaving whose judgment may not be as it ought to be. I think people don’t really fully comprehend how dangerous it can be under those circumstances.”
Gaulke’s parents called for a scooter ban after his death.
Some Metro Council members, like Steve Glover, are in support of a ban. So is downtown council member Freddie O’Connell.
“As reluctant as I am to restrict a mobility option, the scooter companies and their users have done almost nothing to persuade Nashvillians that this is more than another nuisance caused by catering to our tourist economy,” O’Connell wrote in a text.
Others, including Bob Mendes, want to see more regulations and enforcement of the rules that already exist. Some residents echoed that thought.
“I think if they shut down at a responsible time, like ten o’clock or something, I think that would work for everybody,” said local resident Brian Hall. “I scooter every day to work and I don’t have a problem with it.”
Mendes also questioned the legality of a ban since the pilot program is in place until next April and permits have already been issued for the companies to operate until then.
Billy Fields with the Transportation Licensing Commission said that the law states that if the pilot program is scrapes, the permits would be too.
Briley said he’d consider bringing scooters back to the city if a ban is put in place.
“When the scooter companies came the first time, they just came,” said Mayor Briley. “And they just started using the right of way owned by the people who live here in Nashville. We tried to be accommodating, and the experiment failed. So, we are going to take our time.”
However, some council members accuse Briley’s decision as a ploy to get votes ahead of the August election.
Briley rejected that idea.
“I’ve heard a lot from people downtown, from businesses, from people who work and play downtown about the issue. I’ve seen pictures of people doing very risky things, not just risky for themselves, but for others. It’s incumbent on me as the leader of the city to make sure we take care of that,” he said.
Briley did ask for the scooter companies to submit a safety plan and the companies complied. However, he didn’t think the plan went far enough.
Metro Council needs to approve the Mayor’s proposal for the ban to go into effect. The soonest that could happen would be in late July.