Electric scooters are not part of Danbury’s future if the master plan task force is successful. here’s why

DANBURY — Electric scooters could be the future for cities looking for eco-friendly ways to increase mobility and reduce car congestion.

But in Danbury, where a task force is beginning to draft a master plan for the next 10 years, members had a reference to e-scooters removed from its plan to improve bike and pedestrian connectivity across the city over the course of of the next decade.

“I don’t think e-scooters are a good fit for Danbury,” Paul Rotello, the city council’s Democratic Minority Leader and member of the master plan task force, told a meeting this week. “They aren’t so slow anymore…and they would rival joggers. I wouldn’t be in favor of that.

Sharon Calitro, the city’s planning director, and Tim Nolan, Danbury’s utility superintendent, agreed.

“I visited Taiwan two years ago, where there are almost 100% scooters, and there is nowhere to walk on the street or on the sidewalk,” said Nolan, a member of the task force. , in a meeting on Wednesday. “It just doesn’t look like a safe plan with scooters. If it goes in this direction, we will have to legislate on security.

A lead consultant who has helped the task force gather data and chart its direction over the past year and a half agreed that the city doesn’t want electric scooters on sidewalks in traffic lanes. He stressed, however, that members should consider scooters as part of the “micromobility” revolution, where city dwellers choose rental scooters and bikes and ride-sharing services over cars.

“I’m optimistic about the future of electric scooters because they’re easy for a lot of people to use,” said consultant Francisco Gomes. “They come to you. »

Such scooters arrived in Bridgeport after being raced in New Milford by a Bethel company called Lynx City Electric Scooters. Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim called them “game changers.”

In Danbury, Brigid Guertin, a member of the master plan task force, a town historian and a member of the school board, agreed that electric scooters had value.

“I’m not a big fan, but I can see where the future is going, and in a town like Danbury with older people downtown, scooters solve the equity and mobility problem,” Guertin said. . “They are not very expensive but help you get from point A to point B.”

“Are we talking about four wheels or two wheels? asked Rotello, a member of the task force. “When I think of two-wheelers, I think of falling and breaking your hip and dying of pneumonia.”

Guertin said that scooters with more than two wheels and with wider bases are on the market, but if the task force does not want to explicitly approve them, the phrase “adapt equitable mobility” could be replaced as a strategy of the city for the next 10 years.

“Danbury doesn’t have to be at the forefront of this,” Guertin said. “We just have to make room for change.”

Richard Jannelli, member of the working group, agreed.

“Can we just add (the wording) ‘in addition to other means of fair mobility’ and leave it at that and not specifically identify scooters, but let the imagination run free of what the future will be?”

“We have to phrase the words well,” consultant Gomes said. “We will work in this direction. We’re going to do it right.

The scooter debate took place amid a wider discussion of how Danbury will ‘improve mobility across all modes of travel and improve transport links to the region’.

Strategies included staying involved with the state Department of Transportation on Interstate 84 improvements, expanding the city’s sidewalk network, and advocating for a new Danbury commuter rail line to the Southeast from New York State, which would take commuters to Grand Central Terminal.

The task force highlighted the need for Danbury to improve communication with residents about traffic and transport news.

“And it can’t be in English all the time because that’s really not who we are as a whole,” Calitro said, referring to the city’s large communities of Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking residents.

Jannelli, a member of the working group, agreed.

“One of the things we hold in high regard is diversity,” he said. “Translation is very important.”

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