Freedom to Scoot

Freedom to Scoot

There is constant news coverage about the newest innovation in transportation. From driverless cars to hyperloops, the future technology and transportation always seems to be right around the corner.

But for all the big ideas about how to improve transportation, one of the most successful so far in changing how people navigate in cities is much smaller – electric scooters.

Electric scooters have been commercially available for some time now and haven’t made much of an impact in how people get from Point A to Point B. That was until entrepreneurs combined these e-scooters with smartphone technology, allowing people to rent e-scooters for a short period of time by using an app on their phone. Unlike many of the bikeshare programs, these e-scooters can simply be parked on the sidewalk, as opposed to docking stations, giving riders more freedom in where they want to go.

While rentable e-scooters hardly seem like a revolutionary idea, they have the potential to change transportation systems in urban areas. Rather than having to park close to an event, people can instead park further away where parking is plentiful and use e-scooters to get to events such as a concert or college football game. This will decrease congestion and the need to waste so much valuable real estate building parking spaces that are often underutilized.

But, like the ridesharing revolution before it, e-scooters are not without their detractors.

Many citizens and lawmakers alike are concerned about e-scooters being left on the streets, as well as possibly safety risks to both the rider and other pedestrians. Given the state of Louisiana roads, these concerns are entirely understandable.

But, leaving regulations up to each local municipality can also lead to issues. Without a clear regulatory framework, e-scooter companies are unsure of where they can deploy their products, leaving many in the state without a convenient ride. In fact, this is exactly what happened in the city of New Orleans.

That’s why SB 91 by Senator Cortez (R-Lafayette) is an important piece of legislation as it ensures Louisiana has a clear set rules of the road for e-scooters.

This legislation would set basic guidelines for where e-scooters are allowed to operate and safety protocols that riders have to follow but leaves companies free to innovate to create safer and more efficient e-scooters for their customers. Additionally, it provides the companies with the regulatory certainty to expand their business to Louisiana.

This benefits not only the locals and tourists who are looking for a way to get around and beat the heat, but also provides income opportunities for those who charge the e-scooters for the companies. A win-win for everyone.

Jobs and opportunity don’t always come to a state through a transformational piece of legislation or a large company deciding to headquarter in the state. It often comes through smaller changes to the state, one that allows the people of the state to benefit from innovation. Whether that is a business that is now accessible to more people, or someone paying their bills from charging scooters.  Learn more about the Pelican Institute’s Jobs and Opportunity Agenda for Louisiana here.

Louisiana has often struggled coming up with smart and efficient regulations for new technology. With e-scooters however, the state could finally be ahead of the curve.

Let’s hope that Senator Cortez’s bill can scoot through the final hurdles of the legislative process.

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