Johnson City looking into e-scooters and e-bikes in the city

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Johnson City leaders are looking into allowing e-scooters and e-bikes in the city.

Other Tennessee cities like Nashville and Knoxville already have similar programs – and Johnson City could be the next.

If approved – both e-bikes and e-scooters would have to be on docking stations on private property primarily in the downtown area, we’re told.

The city is exploring the idea of allowing companies to come here after several have reached out expressing interest.

“The first thing for me would be safety of both people riding the scooters and people who are pedestrians,” Johnson City Mayor Jenny Brock said.

That’s at the top of Mayor Brock’s checklist as city staff study allowing e-scooters and e-bikes.

“When we look at Nashville, there really aren’t a whole lot of rules and that’s what happened. They really just kind of let them come in without any kind of thinking about some of the unintended consequences,” Mayor Brock said.

Nashville Mayor David Briley wrote a letter to scooter companies Thursday – saying a recent incident where a man was hit and killed while riding a scooter – further emphasizes the dangers.

“This is just a new thing and I think we just had to thoroughly examine what the benefit would be and what the risk and liability would be as well,” Mayor Brock said.

Johnson City’s Director of Development Services Preston Mitchell said the study has been going on for months, and they’ve been looking at what other cities are doing.

“It expands transportation choices and so it expands the opportunities.” Mitchell went on to say “shorter trips by the use of these types of vehicles reduces the need for additional vehicles on the road.”

This is one of the rules they’re looking into: “The scooters, it would be low speed roads would be allowed to be on the road,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell told us they’ve been consulting with various national organizations as well for reference.

We also spoke to people in downtown Johnson City to get their thoughts on the plans.

“I think it’d be a good thing. I do see safety concerns, I mean Johnson City is a pretty busy place,” Sara Gentry said.

We also spoke to a downtown business.

“I think it’d be a wonderful idea, especially downtown. We have a very shortage of parking downtown,” Lora Nielsen of Bernina In Stitches said.

The city commission will be looking at a revised ordinance coming up on June 6.

A public hearing is set for June 20.

They also want to hear from you in polls and a survey that will be posted on social media.

What do you think of having e-scooters and e-bikes in Johnson City? Join the conversation by heading to our poll on WJHL’s Facebook page.

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