Early days of Albuquerque’s e-scooter program reveal growing pains | KOB 4

Early days of Albuquerque’s e-scooter program reveal growing pains

Nathan O'Neal
June 04, 2019 10:34 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Less than two weeks after an electric-scooter pilot program launched in Albuquerque, the city is dealing with growing pains.


For people like Chase Henson, the new Spin scooters are a great way to get around.

“It’s a little bit faster, a little bit more convenient,” said Henson. “It’s also kind of fun.”

One viewer sent KOB 4 a video showing a man trashing a Spin scooter in downtown Albuquerque. The man repeatedly smashes it with a rock before police arrived at the scene and put him in handcuffs.

Last week, Albuquerque police tweeted out a different video of a man apparently stealing a scooter and riding off with it. In the twee, APD wrote, “This is why we can’t have nice things.”

E-scooter riders must follow all traffic laws. However, last week a Belen woman scooted her way to jail. Police say Lily Romero drove an electric scooter while intoxicated. She was pulled over after an officer witnessed her driving the wrong way down a one-way road.

“If you break the law and a police officer sees you, they’re going to stop you and we saw that last week with a person who wanted to test the rules with the DWI and learned the hard way,” said Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis, who pushed through legislation to allow e-scooter rentals.

While councilor Davis acknowledges the early scooter problems are serious, he said they pale in comparison to other cities where thousands of scooters were dumped on the streets with no rules or regulations.

Davis said Albuquerque’s pilot program sports some of the strictest rules in the country, which includes a slow start – with only 250 scooters out on the roads for now.

“We’ve seen that the community wants to see more of them, not less – and that’s a good lesson, in the inverse from what we saw in so many other cities where thousands of these got dumped on the streets without any rules and people were anxious to throw them away," Davis said.

However, the 4 Investigates team found there’s still a learning curve for many e-scooter riders in Albuquerque.

For example, the University of New Mexico and Central New Mexico Community College are e-scooter free zones.

Still, it took only a few minutes for our cameras to capture several riders breaking the rules, including a man and woman riding through UNM’s campus where they are not allowed.

While Spin scooters can be ridden in bike lanes, they’re also allowed on sidewalks given that the rider gives three feet of space for pedestrians. Our cameras caught some riders breaking that rule too.

While city officials don’t have a complete picture of all the scooter incidents yet, a monthly report from Spin – the scooter company – should help.

“The bottom line is, if you see somebody riding it wrong, wave them down and remind them what the rules are – because it’s new and we want people to do this right,” Davis said.

People can also report incidents on the Spin app. Any member of the public can take a picture and upload a scooter issue – which allows for both the company and the city to track any problems and develop ways to fix them.


Nathan O'Neal

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