GOAT scooters are placed outside of the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in Downtown Evansville, Ind., Thursday afternoon, Oct. 17, 2019.  (Photo: MaCabe Brown / Courier & Press)
GOAT scooters are placed outside of the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in Downtown Evansville, Ind., Thursday afternoon, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo: MaCabe Brown / Courier & Press)
EVANSVILLE. — Electric scooters, which can be rented with a smartphone app, have started to appear in Evansville.

An app called GOAT shows six Evansville spots where the scooters are available. A local entrepreneur is starting the business here and bought 24 scooters in all, said Ellen Horan, director of Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville.

Most are Downtown, and a few are on West Franklin Street.

State legislation dictates that local governments may regulate electric scooters but may not prohibit them.

Evansville currently has no ordinance regulating scooters' use. Such an ordinance will likely appear on the Evansville City Council's agenda by the end of this year, Horan said.

It will explain licensing fees, insurance requirements and other rules, such as where scooters are allowed and where they are not.

The local entrepreneur, whom Horan declined to identify, knows an ordinance is being drafted. Horan said a second person also is interested in bringing scooters here via different company.

Anyone with a scooter operation in the city would have to immediately follow an ordinance's terms upon passage.

"These are local people who are looking at what our local residents want, and who want to work with the city, making sure safety is a priority and they don't become a nuisance," Horan said.

In a few other cities, electric scooters are a nuisance in the eyes of some, although they also have become trendy for both travel and recreational use.

Scooter use has proliferated in cities such as Indianapolis and Bloomington, and city officials have fought to keep up.

"We're seeing what happened in Bloomington and Indy, who dealt with it on the back end," Horan said. "Too many players came into the market at the same time, and there were more scooters than there was a need."

Evansville officials are drafting a scooter ordinance by using benchmark data from other cities.

Horan said ordinances typically have a hefty upfront licensing fee for scooter business operators, as well as insurance requirements and a requirement that cities be "held harmless."

More: After more than 20 injuries in September, scooter rule enforcement begins in Indianapolis

Some ordinances also require monthly reports on rentals, to make sure demand is in line with availability.

"We've been working on an ordinance for a couple of months, just wanting to make sure we're doing it right," Horan said. "I think the city is on top of it, they want to be careful and not just slap something together."

Horan said the local operator is "kind of testing different areas" to see where interest in scooters might be. The operator has spoken to hoteliers and to Ivy Tech, for example.

"Some want them and some don't," Horan said. "But I think she's trying to approach it respectfully on how to introduce it to Evansville, whether it's a fun, cool thing to do or if some are using it for transportation."

Evansville Police Department Sgt. Jason Cullum said electric scooter riders must use the same rules of the road that a bicyclist does, and he advised riders to "be aware of your own safety and those around you."

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