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New state law could soon mean more scooters on the road

Published: Jul. 7, 2021 at 12:20 AM HST|Updated: Jul. 7, 2021 at 5:25 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Scooters have proven a headache for Waikiki, but some say Hawaii needs more alternative transportation options.

Electric scooters have been zooming around Waikiki for years, but city law says they’re illegal on streets and sidewalks, they’re considered mopeds.

But a new state law recognizes the need for more alternatives to cars and could soon mean more scooters on the road.

What started as a trial for Go X in February with only 100 scooters out in the streets of Waikiki quickly bloomed as tourism picked up and rental cars became scarce.

“The amount of demand that we’ve seen for our vehicles has superseded any of our expectations,” said CEO of Go X, Alex Debelov.

A new state law begins the process of legalizing electric foot scooters in Hawaii, letting the counties come up with their own laws over where and how they can operate. Debelov says he’s working with the city to set safe rules and regulations.

“I’m excited because it creates a certain level of standards behind micro mobility solutions, especially full electric foot scooters where it makes sure that when we go and register all of our fleet, all of our scooters are safe,” said Debelov.

“So, I’m glad that there’s some clarity,” said Ray, owner of Waikiki Motorsports. “And now there’s laws on the books that actually dictate what can be done and what can’t.”

Waikiki Motorsports partners with Go X providing a parking location for the scooters.

Ray said having the rideshare option helps alleviate the already congested strip.

“There’s not a lot of space, there’s not a lot of parking,” said Ray. “These little mobility vehicles actually help that situation.”

“Definitely less driving your car, getting to places quicker,” said Ciera Wood of Wahiawa. “It really works.”

But some see the e-scooters as a safety hazard.

“And a lot of people complain on strip like you’re going too fast, you know and the people riding them, they don’t really care,” said Jessie Alonzo of Kalihi.

Others hope the new scooter laws will create other automobile alternative options around the state.

“So, we can find safer places for people to bike and people to use scooters or to use other modes and walk, then we’re going to have a better community I think for everybody,” said Executive Director of Hawaii Bicycling League, Lori McCarney.

The new law says riders need to be at least 15 to ride on public property.

Anyone under the age of 16 must wear a helmet.

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