EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – Download an app or just walk downtown and you might see some goats on the street. They aren’t farm animals – they’re electric scooters.
It is a new way to zip around Evansville, and it’s scooting into cities across America. All you need is the Goat smartphone app and a few bucks to get going.
There is plenty of legislation on the road ahead, however, to keep the River City from becoming the wild wild west. Lots of big cities have paved the way, for better or worse.
Ellen Horan, President of the Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville, has been on scooter rides in Austin, Texas. She says the city is littered with scooters, and that can be a problem.
“It was a very convenient way to sightsee and get around different areas of the city, and it was fun,” Horan said.
Evansville Police Sergeant Jason Cullum says common sense can go a long way when scooting around town. You’ll need to follow basic traffic laws, even without formal regulations.
“There have been issues with the unsafe operation, specifically when it comes to consuming alcohol,” said Cullum. “If you’re going to use one of these, you need to make sure you’re operating it in a way that you’re putting your safety first. It’s just like anything else, if you’re on a bike or on foot, you’re very exposed to the traffic that’s around you.”
Indiana state law says cities cannot ban electric scooters, but governments can legislate it. Evansville City Council plans to do just that.
City Councilman, Jonathan Weaver took a ride Friday afternoon on Main Street, contributing to the city’s launch. It is currently in a pilot phase where an unnamed Evansville entrepreneur is testing the market and learning hot spots downtown and on West Franklin Street.
“I’m happy really, that they’re coming,” said Weaver. “It’s something new and exciting downtown is always great.”
Indianapolis and Louisville are a couple of cities that have dealt with problems on the back end of a so-called scooter invasion. Horan says too many companies have flooded sidewalks and it took time for governments to clean it up.
“Nobody wants the streets or sidewalks littered with scooters,” said Horan.
Horan believes Evansville can get in front of that problem. Representatives in the Mayor’s, Transportation, and Controller’s offices are all working together on an ordinance. They hope to have the legislation for City Council in November.
Licensing fees are common in other cities with multiple scooter companies. Indianapolis charges $15,000 just for a company to operate. Bloomington’s fee is $10,000. Both cities allow a maximum of three brands.
Horan says it is common for cities to have a per-scooter or per-ride fee as well.
Weaver wants to ensure there’s etiquette among users. “Make sure we’re not tossing them off to the side and we have to crawl over them when we’re walking over the street,” he said.
There are just about 20 Goat scooters in Evansville now, but there could be plenty of room to grow.
This story was originally published on October 18, 2019