The Madison Town Council adopted a new ordinance at its regular monthly meeting Dec. 5 pertaining to the use of bicycles, electric power-assisted bicycles, motorized skateboards and scooters.
After reviewing the ordinance prepared by town attorney Maynard Sipe, council woman Nancy Knighting moved to adopt the ordinance. The motion was seconded by Alma Lu Ayres and was passed unanimously.
The first article of the ordinance states that riders of the devices operating on streets, roadways and public vehicular areas are subject to traffic laws. It also mandates brakes for each conveyance and a headlamp, tail lights and reflectors for all conveyances operating between sunset and sunrise and provides regulations for parking bicycles, motorized skateboards and scooters within the town limits, specifically prohibiting parking on the streets, other than upon the highway against the curb, sidewalks, public right-of ways and where they could obstruct fire access, pedestrian access or curb ramps.
The second article of the ordinance establishes a permit program to regulate mobility services for hire within the town. The ordinance sets out to ensure that mobility services for hire, which include bike and scooter rentals, are carried out in a manner that protects public safety and aims to improve the transportation network in the area.
The town does not currently have any mobility services for hire and none have been proposed, but town mayor Willie Lamar felt it was important to have laws and a process in place for any that might wish to operate within Madison.
“It may be awhile before we see these services out here in the country but we need to be prepared if and when they come,” said Lamar. “Charlottesville is having some issues with these rental bikes and scooters being abandoned on streets and sidewalks and then becoming a nuisance and hazard.”
Sipe agreed with Lamar that it was better to have a plan in place to avoid some of the pitfalls that other localities like Charlottesville have encountered.
“It’s really a move to keep everyone safe. Especially with the rentals people don’t always have incentive to return them to a docking station,” said Sipe. “We don’t want a situation where bikes and scooters are just left on the streets. Privately owned ones tend not to be a problem as the owner has the incentive to get it safely home but that’s not always true for rentals. This ordinance gives the town the ability to have some oversight if the concept comes this far out.”