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Council eyes scooter safety

January 15, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown City Council members say they view motorized scooters as a possible safety problem, and will consider regulating them in the near future.

"Noise and safety is a big issue" with motorized scooters, Councilwoman Penny Nigh said Wednesday. "I have had several people that have called me. ... Quite obviously, it's a problem."

The city has an ordinance on the books that regulates nonmotorized vehicles such as bicycles, skateboards and foot-propelled scooters. The city law bans riders from using the vehicles on sidewalks and city-owned parking lots in certain areas of the city.

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But council members contacted Wednesday said scooters with small gasoline engines have become increasingly popular among youths in the city, and could pose a danger to the riders or others.

Some said they've heard reports of the scooters being used to tow skateboards on streets, others said they'd heard of the scooters being used on sidewalks and being driven the wrong way on downtown streets.

Councilman N. Linn Hendershot said he thinks it's an important issue to discuss and that it may affect other areas.

"It's not only scooters, but it's mo-peds and ... various types of vehicles that don't require licenses that are on the street that are a big concern," Hendershot said.

"We just need to get our heads together, and not ban mo-peds, but (discuss) how we can encourage the youth to be a little more responsible," Hendershot said.

Councilman Lewis Metzner said he agrees the vehicles should be taken into consideration because there is no license necessary to use them.

"I have no problem with taking a look at it," Metzner said.

Councilman Kristin Aleshire said he has seen the scooters used on less crowded "outer neighborhood" streets where they don't seem to pose as much of a problem as when they are used in more crowded downtown streets.

Police Chief Arthur Smith said he has spoken with other police departments about their experiences with scooters and plans to speak with state officials as well.

Smith said his interest lies in helmet regulations for the riders - who are mainly youngsters - and possibly look at setting age limits for riders to take scooters on public streets.

"At this point, they seem to be totally unregulated," Smith said. "Every time something new comes out like that, you have to look at it from a safety standpoint."

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