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Sandy Journal

Sandy’s e-scooters are here to stay

Aug 10, 2020 12:45PM ● By Justin Adams

Sandy Chief Administrative Officer Matt Huish test drives one of the e-scooters last summer. (Justin Adams/City Journals)

By Justin Adams | [email protected]

Remember when those bright green electric scooters started showing up on the streets of Sandy? Well, it’s been a whole year since then and now the Sandy City Council has officially allowed their operation (and regulated them) with a new city ordinance.

The electric scooters are owned and managed by a company called Lime. Users download the Lime app and (after connecting the app to a payment method) use it to unlock an electric scooter. They cost $1 to unlock and an additional 25 cents per minute of operation.

The scooters are designed to solve the “first mile-last mile” problem, which is that most peoples’ homes and destinations aren’t quite close enough to a public transit stop so they resort to driving in their cars.

The service began operation in Sandy last year with a three-month trial period with the expectation that if they got used enough, they would be here to stay. “We don’t want to have things littered and cluttered-up sidewalks. So it’s going to be driven by how much demand there is,” Sandy Mayor Kurt Bradburn told the Sandy Journal at the time. 

However, a law passed by the state legislature prohibits municipalities from outright banning electric scooters from operating in their jurisdiction, meaning that electric scooters are here to stay in Sandy, whether its elected officials like it or not. 

What they can do, however, is apply reasonable regulations to them. This led the city to draft and pass ordinance No. 20-02 last month.

The ordinance amended Sandy City code to allow and govern the use of electric scooters.

The section of code specifies that electric scooters should be operated on bikeways or multi-use trails first. If those aren’t available, they “may be operated on sidewalks or within the shoulder of any street outside the striped travel lane.” 

However, if a sidewalk or shoulder isn’t available, users are allowed to ride within travel lanes on streets with speed limits of up to 35 miles per hour. 

The ordinance specifies that electric scooter operators should always yield trails and sidewalks to cyclists and pedestrians. 

Like cars, individuals won’t be able to get away with texting and driving…or scootering. 

The code specifies that “riders shall not use a handheld wireless communication device or carry any package, bundle, or article which prevents the use of both hands in the control and operation of the e-scooter.”

One piece of regulation that didn’t make it into the ordinance was a geographic limit on where the scooters can be operated. Under the terms of Lime’s initial trial run, the scooters were programmed to only work within the city’s more urban Cairns district (east of I-15 and west of 700 South). But an analysis by the city attorney’s office concluded that codifying such a restriction would likely violate state law. Consequently, the scooters can theoretically be operated anywhere throughout the city.