As electric scooters and bikes become more popular across the region, Spokane Valley City Council voted Tuesday to allow them access to trails and sidewalks when bike lanes aren’t available, as long as their users don’t ride at unsafe speeds.
The city of Spokane Valley is currently allowing scooter- and bike-share companies to operate independently. While the city doesn’t have a franchise agreement with one of those companies as the city of Spokane does, Spokane Valley leaders said scooters and electric bikes are becoming more popular and the city needed to update its regulations to adapt.
“This was an attempt to modernize our regulations with what’s going on in the real world,” Wick said.
“Motorized personal transportation devices,” which includes electric bikes, skateboards and scooters, will not be allowed in parks but will be allowed on Appleway Trail and the Centennial Trail as long as the device’s speed does not exceed 15 mph. They are also allowed in city park parking lots.
City Councilman Arne Woodard said it was important to allow scooters or electric bicycles to travel on those trails to keep them off high-traffic and dangerous roads.
“As long as they abide by the rules, I’m willing to (allow them) on the Appleway Trail,” he said. “That’s why we built it, so people can stay off busy arterials.”
Councilwoman Linda Thompson and Councilman Tim Hattenburg said it was also important to make sure trails are accessible for everyone. She said some who may want to use the trail and love to bike may need the assistance of a motor, and it would be unfair to exclude them.
Both said they had heard from constituents who worried the city’s current regulations barred them from taking full advantage of new technology that would help them use the trails.
The City Council also voted to allow motorized personal transportation devices on any sidewalk in city limits if there isn’t a bike lane, pedestrians always have the right of way and the device doesn’t exceed 10 mph.
Scooters are not allowed to operate on roads with speed limits above 25 mph, unless they are in a bike lane. There was not an exception for bike lanes included in the city’s previous code.
The City Council also updated parking rules requiring parked electric scooters and bikes not obstruct sidewalks and allows the city to charge bike- and scooter-share companies with a traffic offense if personal motorized transportation devices owned by them are parked incorrectly.
City spokesman Jeff Kleingartner said the company providing those services in Spokane, Lime, discussed a contract with city leaders, but the city decided to allow all companies to operate independently.
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