In an effort to "get out ahead" of the issue, Powell leaders have decided they likely don't see a future in the city for electric scooter rental services that have become popular in Columbus.

Powell's operations committee met Sept. 18 to discuss several topics that have not yet reached Powell City Council.

Debate on electric scooters took up a large chunk of time as leaders mulled whether council should proactively put regulations in place before scooter companies attempt to enter the city.

Transportation companies Bird and Lime introduced the electronic scooters in the Columbus market in the summer, modeled after bike-sharing services that charge a small fee to activate the scooter and additional fees based on the amount of time used.

The service immediately became popular, prompting Columbus leaders to propose legislation that would ban the scooters from sidewalks, mandate the use of helmets and specify the traffic laws that must be followed while riding the scooters.

On Sept. 24, Columbus City Council voted to ban electric scooters from being ridden on sidewalks.

While the companies have yet to expand out of Columbus -- Lime agreements for bike-only service in Worthington and Dublin have not changed -- operations committee Chairman Brian Lorenz said he felt the committee needed to address whether they eventually would be allowed in Powell.

"I think we might want to shape some kind of legislation before a bunch of these end up in our lap," he said.

The committee largely was against the idea of allowing the scooters in Powell, though members' fervor on the topic varied.

Mayor Jon Bennehoof had the strongest opinion on the scooters. He asked if police had the authority to "confiscate them" if they are seen in Powell, and said he's only ever seen people using them "in total disrespect of any laws or norms."

"I think they're a cancer," he said.

Lorenz said it was important to determine whether the city sees the scooters as a "benefit or a nuisance," and said he didn't think they had a place in Powell.

"If you look at our density and the makeup of our community, how our downtown is, I just don't know where they would be ridden," he said. "I'm not getting on one of these things and coming (downtown), and I wouldn't let my kids do it."

Councilwoman Melissa Riggins was the only vocal supporter of the scooters. She said she works in downtown Columbus and has not witnessed scooters being ridden "in and out of traffic or having any issues.

"Where I see it, they're lined up next to each other and they're orderly," she said. "I can't say anything bad from what I've observed."

City Manager Steve Lutz said he appreciated direction from the committee, but said he believes the city has "enough ammunition" to deal with the possibility of either individuals riding scooters into the city or Bird or Lime attempting to bring scooters to town.

"We believe we have legislation which prohibits these scooters from operating on our streets and on our bike paths," he said, noting they already are illegal to ride on sidewalks. "We believe these scooters would only be allowed on private property."

He said police have not been instructed to be "heavy-handed" with enforcement of the laws, but could begin ticketing and confiscating Bird- or Lime-owned scooters if council prefers.

Ultimately, the committee decided not to make any new decisions, but will take two weeks to analyze existing laws and determine if a new direction is needed.

Lutz also said city staff members will include alerts in local newsletters and other communication reminding residents that the scooters are not allowed on Powell roads.

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