New rules for e-bikes and e-scooters OK | Local

The Moscow City Council on Monday passed new city rules banning the use of electric assist devices such as e-bikes and e-scooters on sidewalks in downtown Moscow from June 1.

Moscow expects these devices to become more popular, especially as companies want to roll out e-bikes and e-scooters in the city.

Deputy City Supervisor Cody Riddle said the city wants to support the use of these devices but not risk pedestrian safety.

“Some of these devices get quite heavy and can run at significant speeds,” he said.

To avoid putting pedestrians at risk, new rules will establish a ‘take down’ or ‘no ride’ zone for electronic assist devices in the city centre. Staff will put up signs displaying the rules.

The devices can still work on downtown streets, as well as on sidewalks outside of downtown. The speed limit on sidewalks outside of downtown will be 10 mph. Non-motorized trails will have a 15 mph limit.

The new city code provides exceptions for electric wheelchairs and electric police bicycles.

The city will enter into a licensing agreement with the companies that would require them to provide a local agent who can handle device repairs and locate abandoned ones.

The company should also have a 24-hour helpline to handle complaints and requests for immediate removal of vehicles.

Moscow City Council also gave approval on Monday to launch a project to improve how first responders communicate with Whitcom, the regional emergency dispatch center.

The city will enter into an agreement with Hatfield & Dawson Consulting Engineers to begin developing a new emergency radio communication system that is supposed to eliminate dead zones where first responders cannot communicate via their radios.

According to the agenda for Monday’s meeting, these dead zones result in late notification and late response by police officers, both of which have increased the risk to citizens, officers and property.

It will also eliminate the need for police and firefighters to change radio channels, said city supervisor Bill Belknap.

Councilwoman Gina Taruscio said it was “terrifying” that police officers had to spend time changing radio channels while responding to an event.

“It scares me,” she said.

The project includes the installation of a new simulcast system and the replacement of all mobile and portable radios.

The total project will cost approximately $3.4 million and take 24 months. Moscow is using CARES Act money as well as city funds accumulated over time to pay for the project, Belknap said.

The city also on Monday ratified a $955,000 Economic Development Administration grant that will fund construction of a Sixth Street bridge over Paradise Creek near Mountain View Road.

The single-span bridge will replace existing culverts that have been damaged by age and recent flooding in 2017 and 2019. It will also include sidewalks and bike lanes.

This EDA grant will be matched with $515,000 from the city. Construction is expected to begin this summer and be complete by the end of 2022.

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