ROANOKE, Va. – Grab your helmets, because rentable electric scooters are coming soon to Roanoke.
Roanoke Planning Director Chris Chittum said the city is in the process of granting a permit to the e-scooter company Bolt, which will take a few weeks. Once the permit is granted, Bolt will be able to place its scooters throughout Roanoke.
"The scooters could be totally transformative in terms of how they could extend our transit system," Chittum said.
If all goes well, Bolt scooters could be on Roanoke's streets within two months. Chittum says the city has told the company to discourage riding on sidewalks and that riding in parks and greenways will not be allowed at all.
"The approach these days is not to bring scooters in and drop them," Chittum said. "Now the companies do outreach, get in touch with us and feel us out about what we're receptive to."
The possibility of e-scooters in Roanoke brought mixed reactions from people around City Market on Friday afternoon.
"It was a blast to ride one, honestly," said Cooper Locke, who visited Roanoke from North Carolina, where e-scooters are readily available. "It's great being able to just drive around and park it where you want it."
"You really have to be careful because they dart in and out of traffic," said Cheryl Cobbs, a Roanoke resident who said she first encountered e-scooters while on vacation in Texas. "They're on sidewalks. They're everywhere. I probably won't ride one."
Chittum said the first moments with e-scooters may be chaotic, but he believes the city will eventually embrace the option to ride.
"That's what we see in other communities. It's become the new normal," Chittum said. "I noticed it in Charlotte when I was down there for vacation. It's part of the normal transportation system now."