A fatal accident has once again put electric scooters in the spotlight in Nashville.Tony GonzalezWPLN News
A deadly crash this past weekend has renewed questions about how scooters can safely share the streets.
Police say a tourist lost control of her scooter and hit a semi-tractor on 3rd Avenue. That’s also where the city once considered creating a protected lane for bikes and scooters.
Since 2019, more than 2,000 people have signed a petition, urging the city to make a lane just for bikes and scooters. Several electric scooter companies also signed onto the plan, including Lime, whose scooter was involved in Sunday night’s crash. But it still hasn’t happened.
Lindsey Ganson from Walk Bike Nashville says it’s time for officials to make better infrastructure a priority.
“This crash could have been prevented. This loss of life could have been prevented,” she says. “It’s past the time that we need to be creating separated and protected spaces for people walking, people biking and people scooting.”
Mayor John Cooper has signed onto a national program called Vision Zero, which aims to prevent all traffic-related deaths and serious injuries through better urban planning. But Ganson says that after crashes, people often focus on the individual circumstances of the accident, rather than the political choices that allowed it to happen. She says the city’s streets should be designed to encourage safe decisions, not dangerous ones.
“Let’s not blame the person who lost their life,” Ganson says. “Let’s think about the bigger system and why this happened and realize it’s bigger than individual choices.”
Councilmember Freddie O’Connell, who represents downtown, points to the missed opportunity to improve conditions on 3rd Avenue after years of planning.
“If anything, the tragic loss of life reminds us how difficult Vision Zero has been for Nashville, where creating separated infrastructure for different modes remains one of our greatest challenges for safer streets,” he wrote in a text message.
The fatal accident comes at a moment of existential crisis for the increasingly rowdy tourism district downtown, as officials weigh how to balance fun and safety. Over the summer, a man’s legs were run over after he fell off a party bus. That accident renewed calls to regulate the city’s transportainment industry.
Metro’s Transportation Licensing Commission decided not to approve any more entertainment vehicles in late August. Students at Hume Fogg Academic High School, just steps from the honky tonks on lower Broadway, have also asked city leaders to clamp down on the noisy party buses and pedal taverns that ride outside their school, full of screaming tourists and blaring music. Nashville’s transportainment industry even made the front page of the New York Times last month.
Electric scooters were seldom mentioned during the latest discussions over street safety downtown, after months of heated debates when they first arrived in Nashville. At one point before the pandemic, more than 4,000 scooters from seven different companies zoomed through the city’s streets and littered its sidewalks. But by early this year, just three providers were permitted to deploy a maximum of 500 scooters each.
Still, cutting down on the number of scooters on the streets didn’t solve the issue of where they should ride. In the meantime, walkers, scooters, cars and party buses are stuck finding their own ways to share the road.
Fatal Crash Resurfaces Costly Questions About Scooter Safety In Nashville | WPLN News – Nashville Public Radio