Both Morgantown City Council and SGA are currently looking into bringing ride-sharing scooters to Morgantown.
At its meeting last Tuesday, the city council discussed the possibility of a new ride-sharing program after the city received an application for a business license about an electric scooter program. It could allow residents to travel the city by scooter before leaving it for the next user.
Currently, Morgantown traffic codes deny usage of the scooters and other “toy” modes of transportation, including roller skates and skateboards, on the streets and on sidewalks in Morgantown’s business district. Motor vehicles, aside from motorized wheelchairs, are also prohibited from paths in public parks.
If the program decides to be launched in Morgantown, certain sections of the traffic code must be modified first, said the council.
The ride-sharing program uses an app to access and unlock the scooters, and depending on the company providing the scooters, parking can be free range or a designated parking spot can be put in place.
However, parking is another roadblock the scooters face. According to Morgantown’s traffic code, no one is permitted to park a motorized vehicle in a travel roadway in a park within certain hours.
In order for the city’s decision to move forward, the council must decide whether or not these scooters dictate as a toy. Emily Muzzarelli, assistant city manager of Morgantown, brought the restrictive ordinances forward during the city council meeting and distinguished what else is considered a toy.
“Right now, a toy vehicle is considered a dirt bike, where a dirt bike is more closer related to a motorcycle,” Muzzarelli said. “The use of the word ‘toy vehicle’ is misleading. However, that is how it is being referenced to in one of the items of the code.”
Council said scooter ride-sharing programs are gaining popularity in larger metro areas, such as Washington D.C. It looked into the program being potentially beneficial in the hilly areas of Morgantown.
But the council also considered other factors, such as the number of scooters in a relatively small area, if helmets need to be looked into, the speed of the scooters and how to charge the scooters.
Although the council did not make any official votes on the future of this program, it said it will be looking further into the logistics of the scooters. Ryan Simonton, city attorney of Morgantown, is optimistic about what can be done to implement ride-sharing scooters.
“We can look into what restrictions there might be on how we can permit that,” Simonton said. “To some extent, the state code limits what we can do in streets, but it’s not overly restrictive.”
SGA has also been looking into the electric assisted kick scooter company, called Spin, separately from the council to implement the ride-sharing program on campus. SGA believes the company would be beneficial to students at night, which would make pedestrians more visible to traffic.
SGA President Isaac Obioma said not only will the scooters be somewhat of a safety net for students when campus becomes dark, but they could also help students make quick trips across campus without vehicles. He said it could potentially free up parking and limit traffic during peak travel times.
“Naturally, with pedestrian safety being a priority in this administration, we want to make sure it won’t cause any danger to students,” Obioma said.
Obioma said SGA wants to launch a pilot for the program soon on the
The University of Kentucky is one of six college campuses that uses Spin.