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The following is an op-ed from Ald. Robert Bauman.
The City of Milwaukee has no problem with new transportation technology or motorized scooters. We have embraced Uber and Lyft (we adopted significant changes to our taxi regulations to accommodate their use), we embraced pedi-cabs and peddle taverns, and are in the process of embracing dockless bike share which should be up and running in a few weeks.
The problem with motorized scooters is that our city attorney has advised the Mayor and Common Council that motorized scooters are illegal vehicles under Wisconsin law. As such, the city has no power to permit them, license them or regulate them until state law is amended or a court rules that our city attorney’s opinion is wrong.
When state law is changed, we will embrace motorized scooters and conduct a public debate about how and where they can be used. For example, should they be allowed to operate on sidewalks? (A lot of my constituents are complaining about this.) If they are restricted to the street, should operators be required to stop at red lights and stop signs and respect one way streets and the direction of traffic?
We can also debate where motorized scooters can be stored, such as parkways, curb lanes, bike rakes or designated parking areas, since we are receiving complaints from businesses about motorized scooters blocking their entrances and sidewalks. Finally, we can discuss whether scooters should be available throughout the city, or is it satisfactory to just provide them in Walker's Point, the Third Ward, Downtown and East Side.
The city has a responsibility to act as the referee of the many different and often conflicting uses of our public rights-of-way. The interests of trucks, buses, automobiles, street railways, horse drawn carriages, pedi-cabs, peddle taverns, bicycles, abutting property owners and pedestrians need to be respected and accommodated. This requires a lot of balancing and trade-offs. We have no problem integrating motorized scooters into this mix, but they first need to be legal vehicles under state law.