Birds scooters will fly, but not for free.

Abilene City Council on Thursday passed an ordinance that regulates scooter and bicycle sharing services, placing limits on where they can be operated and charging fees after the council revised its fee ordinance.

The city looked at ordinances elsewhere, including those drafted by the cities of Lubbock and Dallas, while developing its own, said city attorney Stanley Smith.

“It would be something that would allow the city to regulate a bike or scooter sharing business that has entered and wants to use the public right of way in their business,” he said, including where the scooters can. be “nested” or bicycles stored when not in use.

Michael Rice, deputy city manager, said he had been in contact with Bird Rides, a company that had already made a deal with the Christian University of Abilene to bring the brand of scooter to town last year.

Bird was the word

For a while, Bird scooters could be found around this campus, downtown, and often elsewhere.

Rice said he had been in contact with Bird’s representative, who said the company had no general concerns about the city’s ordinance.

Once its fee ordinance is revised, the city will charge an initial permit fee of $ 1,500 over two years, followed by a one-year extension of $ 750, which basically comes down to $ 750 per year, Rice said.

“We are not trying to pass an ordinance to prevent these companies from preventing these companies from having this transportation service,” said Councilor Weldon Hurt. “… We are just trying to give them a legal way to run the business, which a lot of our citizens have said they like.”

Mayor Anthony Williams said the development of the ordinance was aimed at creating a “business-friendly” environment.

Set limits

As drafted, the ordinance would allow departments operating appropriately in Abilene to do so within a mile radius of a higher education institution they have contracted with, as well as in the neighborhood. Abilene business center.

This zone is delimited by a map at the city secretariat.

“Bird chose the ACU campus as the location where they have a contract,” said Councilor Shane Price. “If any students (from Hardin-Simmons University) or (McMurry University) want this opportunity there, they can speak to the current leadership of their college campus and encourage a similar opportunity. “

Agreements could also be made with other institutions, said city manager Robert Hanna, including Texas Tech University and Cisco College.

It is currently required that those applying for permits have contact with a higher education institution, which could be changed in future revisions.

Prescription support and concerns

Jeff Salmon, executive director of Frontier Texas !, spoke in favor of the ordinance, saying it was “supportive of tourism and development,” adding that he had seen tourists post their approval of scooters on social networks.

Salmon said he too hoped the city would be “business friendly in enforcement.”

Frequent council attendee David Swart said he was in favor of amending the ordinance to allow companies to seek a contract only for CBD, in light of the promotion of the city center as a destination. – and perhaps the house of a future convention center hotel.

Bob Thomas asked who would be responsible in the event of accidental injury or death.

Smith said that “the user or the company or perhaps another third party” would be solely responsible.

Thomas said he was concerned about young people, in particular, accidentally injuring someone coming out of a business, especially a senior.

“These young people, who are not in the majority, have no property that could be covered by home insurance or something like that,” he said. “… A single trip to the hospital can ruin an elderly person financially.

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