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Scooters Pulled From Streets at Request of CPD After Incidents with Protesters

Access to rentable electric scooters in Columbus was taken away completely – at the request of the Columbus Division of Police – after multiple incidents in which police say protesters threw the devices at officers.

Riders were unable to rent scooters anywhere in the city from June 22 to June 31. On July 1, a no-ride zone was established, meaning that scooters could not be ridden or rented within a defined area (starting at Fifth Avenue and running south, the zone included all of Downtown and the Short North, as well as a portion of Franklinton).

Full access is now scheduled to be restored at 5 a.m. tomorrow, July 8, about two-and-a-half weeks after the restrictions were first put in place.

“We asked the city and the scooter companies to assist as we did have a scooter thrown at an officer on June 21st after having multiple officers struck with scooters on May 28th,” said Commander Smith Weir, when asked about the restrictions. “The suspects would stand behind the front line of protesters and throw the scooter over them and at the front line of officers.”

“The reason for the ask was that we viewed the scooter as a weapon of convenience, i.e. we did not feel that an individual would carry a de-activated scooter downtown in order to throw at an officer,” Weir added. “Also, the potential for injury to an officer or protester would be much greater, even with officers deployed in their protective riot gear.”

The city’s Department of Public Service, which handles the permitting process for companies that want to place scooters or other “shared mobility devices” on the streets of Columbus, confirmed that the CPD-requested restrictions will be lifted starting tomorrow.

“After a relatively quiet weekend, we are looking at where we can scale back our response,” said Commander Weir.

This is not the first time that CPD has responded to the Black Lives Matter protests taking place around the city over the last six weeks by imposing restrictions on how people can get around.

Buses were rerouted completely around Downtown from May 30 to June 9, an interruption of service that affected over a dozen different lines and applied to an area much larger than the relatively small zone where most of the protests were taking place in that time period.

A Central Ohio Transit Authority official told Columbus Underground at the time that the disruptive reroutes were necessary in order to comply with CPD, which was not permitting buses to travel on any Downtown streets.

And on the morning of June 1, Google Maps briefly showed all exits into Downtown Columbus as being closed after CPD tweeted that “inbound traffic into the city is temporarily halted.” The division later took that tweet down and said that there were no closures (they blamed the original message on a “miscommunication”).

A screen shot from from the Bird app taken last week shows the no-ride zone. Other scooter companies had similar messages on their apps.
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Brent Warren

Brent Warren is a staff reporter for Columbus Underground covering urban development, transportation, city planning, neighborhoods, and other related topics. He grew up in Grandview Heights and has a Master’s Degree in City and Regional Planning from OSU.

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