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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story erroneously reported that the Chattanooga City Council had passed a six-month ban on dockless electric scooters. In fact, council members passed a first reading of the ordinance, which must pass a second reading next week. This story was updated Tuesday, July 2, 2019, at 10 p.m.

Dockless electric scooters are one step closer to being banned from Chattanooga for at least the next six months.

The city council voted unanimously Tuesday night to put a six-month moratorium, proposed by District 3 Councilman Ken Smith, on the scooters amid several months of debate on how to legislate the vehicles.

An ordinance sponsored by Chairman and District 7 Councilman Erskine Oglesby — which would have made scooter companies to stay within certain downtown areas, acquire licenses, and gradually introduce their fleets, among other requirements — passed on first reading, but ultimately failed due to a lack of a motion on second reading as some members of the council had qualms about safety and problems other cities have experienced with the scooters.

"A lot of it was the safety factor and the way it was introduced in some cities there was no regulatory or accountability to it," Oglesby said of the ordinance in June. "The difference about what's happened in Chattanooga is the scooter companies came to us and said they want to be good partners, so we're finding the right way to do this, where they just kind of came in overnight in some other cities."

At the council's strategic planning meeting earlier on Tuesday, Oglesby suggested a lighter moratorium.

"We've already done extensive work on this and came within a heartbeat of passing [it] on second reading, but it didn't," Oglesby said. "Maybe we could change it to 90 days so we can move forward and get this thing behind us."

Smith told Oglesby that an amendment could be proposed, but he would not support it.

No amendments were added to the ordinance at Tuesday's first reading.

The ordinance will go before the council for its second and final reading on Tuesday, July 9.

Two scooter companies — Lime and Bird — have presences in other Tennessee cities and have expressed interest in coming to Chattanooga.

Nashville's mayor is proposing a reboot on electric scooters that would eliminate the program and remove all scooters from city streets but could thereafter allow one or two scooter companies to return if they can meet safety and accessibility requirements.

Mayor David Briley's announcement last month followed his threat to ban the scooters unless the companies that own them immediately addressed problems. Briley received a response from some scooter companies with a proposed agreement last week.

Despite trepidation from elected officials about continuing or beginning the scooter business in their cities, a majority of stakeholders statewide support the scooters, per a Power Poll conducted in June.

While most supported regulations for the scooters, the poll showed that about 60% of Chattanooga business and community leaders support their presence in one form or another, on par with the state results that showed 62% of leaders in the four major cities support the scooters.

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

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