Hoboken City Council holds hearing on safety of electric scooters

HOBOKEN, New Jersey (WABC) -- The issue of scooter safety was taken up by the Hoboken City Council Wednesday night, following an accident in which a scooter struck a mother and her child.

Katie Cohen says she's still traumatized by the collision. The Hoboken mom had her baby in a stroller when they were hit by one of the electric ride share scooters.

"My 3 month old sits here, that's where the infant insert is," she said. "My toddler sits here, that's adjusted for him. And his leg per this picture, they dangle right where the impact would've been."

The accident left her with an injured leg, but it's the emotional pain that she says still gives her panic attacks.

"When you think about the fact that Eliot is about 32 pounds and an OjO scooter is 65, a Lime scooter is 45 pounds give or take, you can imagine that scooter goes flying into a child and cripple him for life," said Cohen.

She was among a handful of residents testifying at a City Council hearing Wednesday night that could determine the fate of ride share scooters in Hoboken.
The scooters are wildly popular after the city approved two companies to take part in a 6-month pilot program.

OjO scooters, though, were unplugged by the mayor a day after the collision, citing a number of concerns he had with the company.
The OjO rider who struck Cohen was under 18 and on the sidewalk, both against the rules.

"We wanna be part of that solution," said OjO CEO Max Smith. "We really wanna have a seat at the table to talk about what we can do. And we know that we can address many of their concerns with our technology today."

Meanwhile, the council voted to ban the remaining scooter company from the city's waterfront areas.

They are leaning towards allowing the entire pilot to expire on November 20th, then put a pause on voting on the permanent program and take the winter to figure things out.

"One is I don't think we have a command on the safety and two quite frankly is the natural elements of winter. Winters are tough in Hoboken," said City Council member Tiffanie Fischer.

"It is something that I think is really important for our residents," said City Council member Michael Russo. "However as I stated I think there are a lot of unintended consequences. Especially with the scooters being left in the street, you have underage children driving them, it becomes problematic. So that's been the major shift for me. It feels like Hoboken residents are being used as guinea pigs frankly."

The council is hoping all of the enforcement issues will be worked out by the spring.
Both OjO and Lime are trying to convince the council and the mayor that e-ride share scooters can thrive in Hoboken without putting others at risk.

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