Chattanooga City Council puts the kibosh on dockless electric scooters indefinitely

A man rides a scooter near children playing along the Embarcadero in San Francisco in April 2019. San Francisco voted late last year to allow certain scooters on city streets. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

After about a year of uncertainty, dockless electric scooter companies have been barred from Chattanooga indefinitely.

The city council voted unanimously Tuesday night to extend its expired six-month moratorium indefinitely, nipping the prospect of the controversial industry coming to Chattanooga in the bud after some companies showed interest last spring.

District 3 Councilman Ken Smith brought back the issue last month just after the original moratorium, which was passed in July 2019, expired. While the city council glided through both votes on the ordinance without comment, questions or dissent, Smith suggested in January that continuing the moratorium made the most sense for the city.

"We have reached the end of our moratorium on [dockless] scooters. It happened so fast, and it seems our city has continued to run just fine without them," he said at a Jan. 14 strategic planning meeting. "To that end, I'm going to send a piece of legislation around to council today which would put an indefinite moratorium on electric scooters."

(MORE: Georgia Senate approves hands-off approach to scooter rules)

Aside from District 4 Councilman Darrin Ledford seconding the motion and some argument over whether the new legislation should go to committee before a vote, council members did not discuss the actual legislation, but all nine members voted to pass the extended ban twice over.

No members of the community spoke about the scooters at Tuesday's meeting, but a handful voiced their concerns in the weeks leading up to the decision.

One resident, Zoe Grimes, told the council that reading about the ban "shocked" her because of Chattanooga's seemingly progressive view on transportation.

"I was like 'What?' Chattanooga has got the electric buses, we're at the forefront of education, and we've banned [dockless] scooters," Grimes said. "When I saw it was up for consideration again, I knew I had to come down."

Grimes shared a few statistics recognizing the dangers of falling and other woes many cities are facing after introducing the scooters, but concluded that a ban on transportation options counters Chattanooga's forward thinking.

"What I think Chattanooga should be doing is not looking to exclude car-less solutions, but should instead be looking for ways to embrace car-less transportation," she said.

Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at or 423-757-6416. Follow her on Twitter @sarahgtaylor.