Charlotte looks at next steps on e-scooters + TOD ordinance

Charlotte City Council’s Transportation and Planning Committee held its rescheduled snow day meeting on Monday, December 17th.  Staff gave committee members updates on the Transit Oriented Development districts, tractor-trailer parking policy, and new scooter recommendations.  View the full staff presentation from the meeting here.  Here’s what you need to know.

Transit Oriented Development Districts

Monica Holmes, with the Planning Department, gave a brief update on the new Transit Oriented Development (TOD) ordinance. The new ordinance will be filed this month, followed by a public hearing in late winter or early spring, and appear before Council for approval in Spring 2019.

Our Take

Our Executive Director is serving on the city’s zoning ordinance advisory committee and our team has worked hard throughout 2018 to ensure this ordinance encourages development that is supportive of walking, biking, transit, and affordable housing rather than driving.  And while it doesn’t include everything we wanted, we hope the Council will approve it.

Here’s the timeline:

TOD Timeline


Dan Gallagher, with CDOT, came back to the committee with more information about scooters after conversations during the last two Transportation and Planning Committee meetings.  Read our coverage of last month’s Transportation and Planning blog here.

Gallagher gave a summary of how other cities across North Carolina are dealing with the emergence of e-mobility options:

E scooters in NC

Staff is looking to supplement Charlotte’s permit process with an ordinance to enforce safety regulations, equity concerns, and fleet sizes.

Gallagher introduced new language into the conversation with the words dynamic pricing.  Staff wants to follow the examples set by Raleigh, Durham, and Greensboro and charge scooter operators a fee per unit (i.e., per scooter) for operating in our city.

Council Member Dimple Ajmera questioned charging a tax on operators.  She does not want to see the price increase for users and fears that everyday Charlotteans will be forced to absorb the cost of such a tax.  She asked staff to include a side-by-side comparison of individual scooter ride costs throughout our peer North Carolina cities.

Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt insisted that scooter speed must be capped at 15 miles per hour.

Our Take

We thank Council Members Winston and Ajmera for being committee champions for transportation choices in our City.  They consistently argue for minimum scooter regulations, dynamic fleet sizes, and equitable distribution during committee meetings.

We have concerns about charging the scooter operators a fee per unit.  For one, this strikes us as inequitable because Uber and Lyft are not taxed by the City, despite the fact that the additional vehicle miles they generate inflict far more costs to the City, in terms of infrastructure needs, carbon emissions, and air pollution than scooters.

Furthermore, scooters provide Charlotte residents and visitors an affordable and climate-friendly mode of transportation that also helps reduce vehicular congestion.  In other words, scooters are helping the City meet its goals around giving residents more transportation choices, becoming a low carbon city, and making the City more affordable.

We urge City Council to tread carefully with regard to regulations.  We believe the best way to address their concerns about scooters is to provide scooter users the same things we need to provide bicycle users: their own safe lanes separated from vehicle traffic and more places to park.

If we do these things, we are confident that today’s concerns will be dramatically reduced without stifling their use. And we must do everything we can to encourage their use given the many economic, health, equity, and environmental benefits they provide.

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