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Howard County looking to bring electric scooters to Columbia area

Bird scooters waiting to be rented park along Pratt and Light streets at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore. Scooter sharing companies have recently expressed interest in operating in Howard County and the County Council is considering legislation to allow scooters in the area.
Bird scooters waiting to be rented park along Pratt and Light streets at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore. Scooter sharing companies have recently expressed interest in operating in Howard County and the County Council is considering legislation to allow scooters in the area. (Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)

Howard County residents could soon add a new mode of transportation to their daily travels: electric scooters.

“Scooter-sharing companies have recently expressed interest in operating in Howard County,” according to a county news release, specifically in the areas of downtown Columbia and Columbia Gateway Business Park.

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To start the process, there is legislation before the County Council to enable the permit process and fees. The legislation, filed at the request of Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, looks to update the county code, including adding a definition for electric, low-speed scooters, to bring the code up to date with state code.

If approved, the permit process would allow electric scooter-sharing companies to operate on sidewalks, streets, pathways and in bike lanes. The permit would outline where the scooters can be parked, speed, maximum quantity, insurance requirements, permit fees, data sharing and operator response time.

The county has reached out to Columbia and Columbia Gateway’s major landowners to address any concerns.

“We’re planning ahead to ensure that when scooters do arrive, they are safe, accessible and work within our current infrastructure,” Ball said in a statement.

The county is basing their process on best practices and experiences, from neighboring Montgomery County, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., according to the news release.

The permit process will be managed by the Howard County Office of Transportation. It is expected to begin in May.

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