Charting a course for city e-scooters 1

Councilmembers Adrienne Adams, left and Donovan Richards attend an e-scooter demonstration with Anthony Gellineau of the South Ozone Park Civic Association, Paul Steely White of Bird Rides and Khari White of the 149th Street Civic Association.

Civic and political leaders from Southeast Queens have long said the city needs to get creative to deal with its myriad transportation shortfalls.

And some now are looking at a Citi Bike-style program for electric scooters as a possibility.

Councilmembers Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica) and Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) last week attended a demonstration of the vehicles and are calling on the city to legalize them for the purposes of starting a pilot rental program.

“With a failing transit system, we need to expand transportation options especially in New York City’s transportation deserts like Southeast Queens,” Adams said in a statement issued by her office. “E-scooters are an affordable and environmentally sound alternative that warrants thoughtful consideration and represents an innovative solution to the City’s transit woes.”

Richards described Southeast Queens’ transit options as “something we have had to endure for decades.” He is willing to give the scooters a try.

“Taking buses to the subway just isn’t reliable enough and taking the Long Island Rail Road is far too expensive for most,” he said. “Taking advantage of new ride shares, dockless bikes and scooters will help us bridge the transportation divide that has no signs of improving in the near future.”

Last week’s demonstration attended by Richards and Adams was hosted by Bird Rides, which operates electric scooter sharing programs in more than 100 markets in 21 states, including Los Angeles, Austin, Texas, Portland, Ore. and Washington, DC.

The scooters can be unlocked through a smartphone app for $1 and ridden for 15 cents per minute.

The program would need approval from the City Council. But Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan), chairman of the Transportation Committee, told the Chronicle on Monday that he and Councilman Rafael Espinal (D-Brooklyn) are crafting a bill which would do just that.

Rodriguez said the demand — and the market — for alternative transportation is there, particularly in sections of the outer boroughs.

“I think one reason we should make electric scooters and electric bikes legal in New York City is that they are already happening,” he said. “A lot of people own them. Other places are using them. We should not be left behind.”

He cited an example of a teacher who has a 10-block walk from a subway stop to his or her school

“Shouldn’t a teacher be able to ride a scoter those 10 blocks, and ride it back if there is access to a rental?” he asked.

He said any legislation that eventually comes before his committee must make the trips not only legal but safe.

Neither Rodriguez nor Adams believe there would be a problem at the state level.