Question about preventing e-scooters from going up on sidewalks

Sarah Roy

Hi Strong Towns friends!

Hoping for some advice regarding people riding e-scooters on the sidewalk. Our town, Fairfield, CT, is doing a pilot e-scooter program in partnership with Bird scooters (May to October/November). While the overall reception has been positive so far, the Town has received a few complaints about younger people riding e-scooters on the sidewalks and endangering pedestrians. I suggested perhaps people didn't feel safe riding on the busy streets along side cars going 30+ mph, further demonstration of our need to calm traffic and build safe and comfortable infrastructure for micromobility and bicycles. However, some of the witnesses said what they observed happened on quieter side streets and appeared to be more like young adults horsing around and being reckless. 

I'm wondering if any other communities out there dealt with this issue regarding e-scooters and if, so, how did you address it? Is there a way to program the e-scooters to stop if they go up on the sidewalk, just as they are programmed to stop if the driver tries to take the scooter outside a designated radius?

The police department is supportive of this program, which is a huge positive, and the town board of selectpeople are open to giving it a chance, but I'm worried that if they continue to receive complaints, they will either shut it down or choose not to continue/grow it in the future. 

Any advice you have would be most appreciated.






1 comment

  • Comment author
    Grant Bloom

    Hi Sarah,
    Sorry I am probably late to need, but I'll share my thoughts anyway.

    Micromobility is not immune to the same risks as bikes when it comes to high stress, marginally safe infrastructure. While there might be a few anecdotal instances of reckless young people riding on sidewalks, it is more likely that the sidewalk is the only place that scooter users feel safe on anything but side streets. "Wreckless young people" are a common scapegoat, especially when it comes to doing something new and different. Tell your selectpeople (sweet title btw) not to manage to the exception; police are good at addressing exceptions.

    As far as a technical barrier to using sidewalks, my experience with the geofences the scooters use is that it cannot reliably differentiate between a bike lane next to the sidewalk and the sidewalk itself. If your town is doing micromobility right the town gets some revenue from each ride or from licensing each company, and that revenue should go toward improving rolling infrastructure (ideally with a high impact quick win project early on). That positive reinforcement helps ensure the future viability of micromobility, biking, etc.


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