That’s right. You thought all along that Bird, Lime and Uber were the first scooters to show up along the streets of downtown Atlanta. Not so. Electric (and gas) scooters were used by the Atlanta Police Department since at least 1916, although it is apparent that they have not used them in quite a while. So let’s get this straight, the Atlanta police department was using electric scooters in downtown Atlanta over a 100 year before Bird and Lime scooters showed up. An amazing fact, to say the least.
In 1916, these electric scooters were not considered a nuisance and they did not wind up being left on the side of roads and sidewalk, like we see today. The reason: probably because the initial Atlanta scooter were police department property and had to be signed in an out of the police motor pool. In other words, accountability played a role in making sure that the scooters were safely placed in storage when not in use. Of course, there was no also a rash of electric scooter related accidents in Atlanta when these scooters went into service in 1916. Probably because the officers received training on the use of the scooters and the scooter were maintained properly by the police department.
According to the AJC, a 1916 front-page report describes the “sensational” first sightings of a new fad: the Autoped, which the reporter describes as a “man-toting, animated lawn mower.” Autoped motor scooters were made from 1915-19 by the Autoped Co. based in Long Island City, N.Y. (a German company made them for two years after that). The gas-powered version was more popular, but the company also made a version powered by a battery. In its heyday, postal carriers and traffic cops used the vehicles in some cities.