An e-scooter parked in Silver Spring. Credit: Steve Bohnel

This story was updated at 7:30 a.m. Sept. 21, 2022, to clarify part of what the radon bill would require.

Children under age 14, pending County Executive Marc Elrich’s signature, will be prohibited from using e-scooters while those under 18 must wear helmets, according to legislation approved Tuesday by the County Council that also requires e-scooters companies to register with the county Department of Transportation. 

Council Member Sidney Katz was the lead sponsor of the bill, which was similar to legislation originally introduced at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. Action was delayed, however, due to the issues and challenges facing lawmakers at the time.

According to the new regulations, which take place 91 days from today, given that Elrich signs the bill

  • A person under 14 is not allowed to operate an e-scooter. Exceptions to this include an assistive mobility device and recreational scooters that travel up to 10 miles per hour. County police would help enforce the law, but the primary enforcement would be done by a contractor that the county hires, who would also help with the registration process, mentioned below
  • Riders may not travel more than 15 miles per hour on an e-scooter
  • A company that owns two or more e-scooters will be required to register its fleet with the  Department of Transportation. The county executive’s office may set the registration fee.
  • Anybody under 18 must wear a helmet while operating an e-scooter. The civil penalty is $50, but the fine will be waived the first time.

The legislation, passed unanimously, also regulates where the scooters can be parked, prohibiting parking on a sidewalk that is 5 feet wide or narrower or in sidewalk dining areas, loading zones and bicycle lanes, among other areas. 

Before the council vote, Katz said the bill is designed to increase safety concerning the use of e-scooters, a transportation mode that has become more popular in recent years.

Council President Gabe Albornoz agreed.

“We don’t want to overregulate, but we also want to keep people safe,” he said.

Rice introduces radon inspection requirement bill for rental units

Council Member Craig Rice introduced legislation on Tuesday that requires landlords to complete an inspection for radon before offering a lease to prospective tenants.

Radon is a radioactive gas that forms when uranium, thorium, or radium break down in rocks, soil and groundwater — and it is the second leading cause of lung cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Rice’s bill would require landlords of single-family and multifamily households to perform a radon test before offering a lease and require that the test must be completed less than three years before a lease is offered. Test results and guidance from the Environmental Protection Agency on how to conduct radon tests must be provided to each new tenant.

Tenants also can perform radon tests and if the results are above the EPA’s suggested limit for radon levels (more than 4 picocuries per liter), they must notify the landlord within 14 days to perform repairs, according to the bill. 

The landlord then would have 14 days to begin a follow-up test, and within 90 days of the confirmed results, complete the repairs to reduce the radon levels to 2 picocuries per liter.

Tenants can choose to end the lease if landlords do not comply, according to the bill. A public hearing on the proposed legislation is scheduled for Oct. 18 at 1:30 p.m.