City Council Considers Gun & Scooter Ordinances

(Lincoln, Nebraska.  Monday, September 16, 2019) Members of the Lincoln City Council are considering whether to add new requirements for gun owners, and whether to allow vendors to offer electric scooters for rent downtown.

The new requirements for gun owners are contained in two different ordinances introduced Monday.  The first would require guns kept in vehicles to be safely locked in vehicle compartments, or in boxes or cases that are firmly attached to the vehicle.  The second proposal would require gun owners to report the theft of a gun to Police within 48 hours.  Both ordinances will be the subject of Public Hearings Monday, September 23.

The scooter ordinance was the subject of a Public Hearing Monday (September 16).

City County Planning Director David Carey told the Council that scooter rental arrangements have been made in numerous Cities around the U.S. and that it was only a matter of time before Lincoln would face one.  He said the proposed ordinance contains a lot of flexibility, and a “lot of details that would have to be worked out between the City and the vendor.”

Abby Littrell of the City Law Department told Council members that her Department studied ordinances in nearly one dozen cities.  Their strongest recommendation would be that an electric scooter be subject to all laws governing motor vehicles.  The scooters would be allowed to travel anywhere that bicycles are allowed, excluding multi-use trails.  Allowing that, she said, would place the trail system out of compliance with the Federal funding involved.

Like Carey, she said that many details would have to be worked out, either in the contracting phase with the vendor, in discussions with the Police Department, or through experience, and incorporated in the final rules.  She emphasized that the ordinance under consideration calls for a “trial period” and would not be considered the final regulations.

One example she cited is the language in the ordinance limiting scooters to “the downtown area”.  That area is not defined in the language, she said, and would have to be agreed upon by the vendor and Lincoln Transportation and Utilities, the City department that would be responsible for its administration.

City Councilman Roy Christensen wanted to know what would happen if a cyclist had an accident or struck a pedestrian.  The ordinance, she said, specifically exempts the City from liability, and makes any accident or safety problem a matter between the individual and the vendor.

She also said that helmets would not be required under the draft currently proposed.  She said helmets are not currently required for the bike share program, so they were excluded for consistency’s sake.  A potential renter would, however, be required to show a driver’s license.

The Council is scheduled to vote on the scooter ordinance next week, September 23.

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