Seaford takes steps to address scooter issue

By Tony E. Windsor.

The City of Seaford has taken steps to address public concerns regarding an influx of scooter transportation on local roadways. Seaford's Mayor and Council have been studying the scooter issue for the past few months and a committee was developed to help give the council some direction. Citizens have complained about scooters being operated on city roads in an unsafe and reckless manner. Seaford Councilman Ed Butler chaired a committee made up of police officers, residents, business people and youth, all of which sought to develop some type of control over how scooters are operated in the city. During the June 12 meeting of Seaford Mayor and Council, a proposed "Scooter Ordinance" was presented to the council for approval. The ordinance defines a scooter as a human powered, electric and/or engine-powered platform, two-wheeled class of vehicle. The ordinance also stipulates that no one under the age of 13 can operate a motor/engine-powered scooter within city limits. The ordinance also said that anyone whose license has been suspended or revoked shall not operate this same type of scooter. City Manager Dolores Slatcher said she had passed the proposed ordinance on to Seaford attorney James Fuqua for review. Slatcher said Fuqua expressed legal concerns that the city would state in the ordinance that persons under the legal driving age can operate a scooter without a license, but someone who has lost their license is prohibited. Fuqua said he is afraid that this may reflect a double standard that may be frowned upon by the courts. Mayor Daniel B. Short Jr. defended the ordinance proposal, saying if someone loses his or her driving privileges, they should not be allowed to operate a motorized scooter on the roadways. "A 13-year-old has not had the opportunity to get a license," he said. "Someone who has had their license suspended or revoked has had this opportunity and lost that privilege. I feel we should leave this provision in. I don't want somebody to lose their license and then have them ride by the one of our police officers on a scooter." Councilman Larry Miller said this could be an issue that the city may have to yield to the courts in the future. However, the consensus of the council was to leave the provision in the ordinance.

The scooter issue has created concerns by not only citizens, but local law enforcement as well. Seaford Police Chief Richard Pounsberry says though he does not object to scooters being operated in the city, he feels compelled to help take action to "protect the kids from themselves." This is reaction to incidents of reckless and unsafe scooter operation by young people on Seaford streets and highways. The new scooter ordinance also stipulates that any person under the age of 18 must wear a protective bicycle-type helmet that meets requirements for protective headgear. Parents or guardians of juveniles who knowingly allow the youth to operate the scooter without headgear or in a manner in violation of the provisions of the scooter ordinance are subject to fines of $10 to $50. Other provisions of the ordinance include:
- No more than one person on a scooter
- No speeds above 25 miles per hour on city streets
- Scooters operated at night must have a headlamp and reflectors. In lieu of reflectors, the operator can wear reflective clothing
- Scooters cannot be operated with the operator of the scooter in any way attached to another vehicle
- Scooter mufflers must be in good working order
- Scooter operators may not operate the scooter while carrying packages, packages or bundles which prohibit two-hand operation of the scooter
- Scooter operators must use legally recognized hand and arm signals for turning and stopping
- Scooter racing is not permitted in city limits
- Scooters shall not be operated in the city two or more abreast
- If police feel a scooter is not safe, or in need of repair, the operator must submit to an on-the-spot inspection.
- Motorized scooters are not permitted on city sidewalks.
Butler praised the efforts of his committee and said the ordinance was a wonderful effort between city officials, police, youth and community. The council voted unanimously to adopt the new scooter ordinance.

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