*** Vancouver scooter hearing Oct. 18 ***
Vancouver, Washington -- 10/06/2004
Vancouver temporarily backed away from becoming the
second city in Clark County to regulate motorized scooters.
The Vancouver City Council on Monday night postponed a
crackdown on the increasingly popular urban vehicles, which
many complain are dangerous and noisy. Washougal passed
an ordinance regulating the scooters on Aug. 2.
The Washougal City Council set 16 as the minimum age for
scooter operators and banned scooters on sidewalks, trails
or city streets where the speed limit is more than 25 mph.
Instead of following suit, the Vancouver council unanimously
agreed to hear testimony Oct. 18 on whether to allow riders
as young as 14 and whether to permit scooters in bike lanes
or on the far right side of city streets.
Camas and Battle Ground also are exploring scooter ordinances.
The scooters are essentially skateboards with handlebars
powered by small gasoline or electric motors. Ranging in
price from $200 to more than $1,000, the scooters have
brake levers, hand-operated accelerators, and some have seats.
At present, there are no regulations on scooter operations
in Vancouver, and many children are riding them.
Vancouver's proposed ordinance would require operators to
wear a helmet. It also would mandate that scooters be equipped
with lights after dark and that gas-powered models have mufflers.
The ordinance would allow scooters to be impounded in case of
a violation; it also calls for fines of up to $250.
Washougal has seen scooter problems nearly disappear since
it passed its ordinance this summer, said Washougal Police
spokeswoman Sgt. Kim Yamashita.
"We had a grace period after we passed the ordinance, and let
everybody find out about it, and there hasn't been any problem
since then," she said.
City Clerk Annie Bocchi in Battle Ground said an ordinance
there is still "only in the talking stage." In Camas, the city council
handed off the scooter regulation issue to its high school advisory
committee in June, asking the teens to debate it and bring back a
proposal this fall.
Cities including Seattle, Wenatchee, Puyallup, Ocean Shores,
Mount Vernon, Stanwood, Kirkland, Lake Stevens, Sedro-Woolley
and Burlington have scooter ordinances.
Vancouver council members said they're afraid the scooters are
unsafe, especially when young drivers operate at night without
lights. Scooter injuries are rising across the nation. The U.S.
Consumer Product Safety Commission said there were 5,900
injuries associated with motorized scooters in the United States
in 2002, compared with 1,330 in 1999.
Vancouver scooter rider Tim Connolly was among those
objecting to some ordinance provisions Monday night, while
supporting the helmet requirement and the age limit.
"I don't agree with limiting them to 25-mph roads," Connelly said
in an earlier interview. "Adults have been flying under the radar with
these, and lots of my friends use them for lots of reasons, including
going to work and avoiding buying a second car. Mine gets 200 miles
Council members said they wanted to
allow scooters to operate, but safely.
Previously: An influx of motorized electric and gasoline-powered
scooters in Vancouver triggered complaints about noise and safety.
What's new: The Vancouver City Council on Monday night set a
public hearing for Oct. 18 on an ordinance requiring scooter
operators to be at least 14 years old. It also will mandate that
scooters be equipped with lights and mufflers, stay off city sidewalks
and trails and operate only in bikeways or the far right lanes of city
What's next: Once the ordinance is adopted, scooters may be
impounded if riders violate the ordinance. Fines of up to $250
could be levied for violations.
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