House OKs bill allowing Newport to regulate electric bikes and scooters

In a bid to address safety concerns stemming from the rising popularity of electric bicycles and scooters in Newport, the Rhode Island House of Representatives has greenlit legislation sponsored by Rep. Lauren H. Carson. The approved bill, which exclusively targets Newport, empowers the city to establish regulations governing the usage of these alternative modes of transportation.

Representative Carson underscored the necessity of establishing guidelines amid the surge in e-bike and scooter usage. She emphasized the paramount importance of ensuring the safety of riders, pedestrians, and motorists navigating Newport’s historic, narrow roads.

The legislation, (2024-H 7321), allows the Newport City Council to craft ordinances dictating various aspects of e-bike and e-scooter operation. These regulations encompass factors such as the minimum age of operators, licensing requirements, registration protocols, and insurance obligations. However, any ordinances enacted must align with existing general laws.

Furthermore, the bill grants the city council the discretion to designate specific areas within Newport where e-bikes and e-scooters may be operated or restricted.

The urgency to regulate these modes of transport was punctuated by a tragic incident in October, wherein a Middletown woman lost her life in a collision involving a truck while riding an e-bike on Admiral Kalbfus Road in Newport. The driver of the truck was subsequently cited for a traffic violation.

With the House’s approval secured, the legislation now advances to the Senate. Sen. Dawn Euer, representing District 13 encompassing Newport and Jamestown, has introduced a corresponding bill, designated as 2024-S 2272, signaling bipartisan support for addressing the regulatory gaps surrounding e-bikes and scooters.

The move reflects a proactive approach by Newport’s lawmakers in response to evolving transportation trends and underscores the commitment to enhancing safety within the community.




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