Huntsville considering e-scooter program

CNHI File PhotoThe Huntsville City Council is currently considering a six-month pilot program to provide electric scooters like the one pictured throughout the city.

Huntsville may soon be making electric scooters a more or less permanent fixture of the city’s streets and sidewalks.

The Huntsville City Council is expected to open discussions Tuesday on an ordinance change to allow e-scooter companies to operate in Huntsville — provided companies fulfill the requirements of a new permitting system.

The code change would make the pilot program for “shared-mobility devices” a permanent part of Huntsville’s transit system after officials originally approved a six-month pilot program in July 2019.

Currently, only one vendor operates within the city — GOAT Huntsville. The locally-owned group deployed 75 devices around the Sam Houston State University campus and Downtown Huntsville.

“We (the city) has maintained contact with (GOAT Huntsville owners Brad and Amy Warner) throughout the duration of the pilot program, monitoring the use of the devices and user compliance with the regulations,” said Kevin Byal, the city’s director of development services/ building official. “Other than a few minor rider mishaps, the city has received no complaints.”

According to rider reports from GOAT Huntsville, the group averaged 1,424 rides through the months of September and October with 75 shared-mobility devices. Riders drive an average of 1.32 miles per ride.

The city’s goal for the program was to determine if scooters would improve transportation access, reduce car use and provide a way to get to and from public transit. City officials are analyzing resident opinions about the pilot, data about scooter use and injury reports to assess the program’s success.

Tuesday’s meeting of the Huntsville City Council is scheduled for Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.