Fayetteville City Council

Fayetteville City Council members passed rules Tuesday night applying to electric rideshare scooters in the city, voting not to require helmets in a decision that echoes the city’s regulations for bicycles.

The regulations for electric scooters were adopted immediately through an emergency clause, according to the ordinance.

This was in order to get the regulations in place before Arkansas’s Electric Motorized Scooter act, which does not allow cities to prohibit electric rideshare scooters, takes effect July 24, Councilman Mark Kinion said.

Fayetteville officials will only permit a total of 500 electric rideshare scooters in the city initially, although the limit may be amended, according to the ordinance. Scooter vendors are limited to 250 scooters each.

Councilwoman Teresa Turk wanted the total number of permitted scooters reduced to 250, but the amendment failed.

“I’d prefer that we start really slow, so that we can make our mistakes and correct them,” Turk said.

Turk also suggested that the regulations should require scooter riders to wear a helmet, citing a 2018 Centers for Disease Control study that found 45% of injuries on scooters in Austin, Texas, during a one-month period were head injuries, and less than 1% of injured riders wore a helmet.

City law does not require cyclists to wear helmets, including rideshare bikes such as VeoRide, said Fayetteville Environmental Director Peter Nierengarten. He thinks it would be very difficult to enforce helmet requirements.

Councilwoman Sarah Marsh did not support the change because she thinks it would reduce the number of people who use the scooters and make the program less successful, she said.

Councilman Kyle Smith thinks that anyone riding a bike or a scooter should wear a helmet to prevent serious injury, but thinks it would be difficult to enforce a helmet requirement, he said.

Turk, Kinion, and Councilwoman Sonia Gutierrez voted for the helmet requirement, but the amendment failed with five ‘no’ votes.

Nierengarten has spoken with two rideshare scooter vendors who are interested in bringing scooters to Fayetteville but did not disclose the companies’ names.

Grant Lancaster is the digital managing editor of the Arkansas Traveler. Grant began work at the Traveler as a reporter in 2017 and went on to work as a senior staff reporter and news editor from 2018-2019.

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