Scooter bill zips through Statehouse, but not yet to Holcomb

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Hoosiers statewide may be able to scoot alongside other modes of transportation now that a bill aimed at regulating electronic scooter use has zipped through both Houses of the the Indiana General Assembly.

Indiana Senators on Monday voted 43-5 in favor of House Bill 1649, dealing with the use and regulation of e-scooters. The bill sped through the Indiana House of Representatives 94-3 in February. The legislation was returned to the House with amendments but has not yet been assigned to a conference committee.

Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, authored the legislation to create a regulatory framework for the thousands of rental e-scooters that last year companies such as Lime and Bird unexpectedly dropped into cities including Indianapolis, Bloomington, Elkhart, South Bend and West Lafayette.

E-scooters under HB 1649 would not be considered a motor vehicle and would be exempt from abiding by motor vehicle laws. Instead, scooters would be placed in the same category as bicycles, providing that they share the same duties and responsibilities of bike riders.

Under the measure, scooters can’t weigh more than 100 pounds, have more than three wheels, and cannot exceed 20 mph when driven. If permitted by a local authority, e-scooters can be used wherever bikes are ridden. The scooters must also have front and tail-end lights.

Local authorities would have some discretion as to whether e-scooters can be driven on highways, but in all instances e-scooters are barred from interstate use. They could also prohibit the parking of e-scooters on sidewalks if adequate alternative parking is provided in a public right-of-way area nearby.

HB 1649 also would exempt e-scooter companies from any financial responsibility in the event of an accident. That means the burden would be placed on the scooter operator, which is the opposite of what Rep. Cherrish Pryor, D-Indianapolis, proposed in her own e-scooter bill.

Pryor’s legislation, House Bill 1036, would have made scooter companies liable for damages caused by the devices and required the companies to carry liability insurance. It also would have required scooter companies to have a toll-free number to respond to concerns and complaints. Her bill received no hearing.

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