Santa Fe City Council approved a resolution Wednesday on a divided vote that directed City Manager Erik Litzenberg to evaluate the suitability of shared electric scooters like Lime and Bird, and to determine if a pilot program testing out the scooters is a good idea.

Councilors also formally banned the electric scooters until Litzenberg and the governing body determine whether the electric scooter trend is right for Santa Fe.

Some councilors were skeptical from the beginning.

Sponsored by councilors Carol Romero-Wirth and Signe Lindell, the resolution was opposed by councilors Mike Harris and JoAnn Vigil Coppler. Councilor Peter Ives offered a "skeptical yes."

Electric scooters, touted by some to be a convenient, sustainable, inexpensive new mode of transportation, have also been criticized as nuisances and safety hazards.

The scooters are dockless, and customers locate and rent them via a smartphone app, then leave them at the desired destination for the next customer. Residents of cities that allow the scooters' use have complained that they often block sidewalks, residences and storefronts, and are sometimes stacked haphazardly.

The discussion stemmed from a recent expression of interest in getting shared scooters off the ground in Santa Fe by the California-based company Bird.

"Too often, once we start down a certain road, no matter what it may be, it starts to get a life of its own," Harris said Wednesday. "I quite frankly don't even want to move forward on the evaluation."

Studies of cities that have allowed electric scooter use have seen high levels of injuries resulting from new riders and riders who neglect to wear helmets.

"I have not received one single comment—and I have received many—that supports this," Vigil Coppler said.

Other city councilors said that the topic was at least worth exploring.

Roman Abeyta said that when he attends community meetings, one of the biggest issues among residents is "the distance between neighborhoods and grocery stores, and the lack of transportation options or direct transportation. I'm not saying this is the solution, but it could possibly be one of the modes of transportation that residents in [my district] would take advantage of."

Mayor Alan Webber also thought that the idea should be investigated, whether or not the council decided to pursue it further.

"I do think it's incumbent on us to try to do a serious evaluation of this and take it into account and let people be heard on it," Mayor Alan Webber said.

Romero-Wirth said that the pilot program could be limited to a specific part of town or even a specific neighborhood.

"Maybe we say, 'All right, let's do a pilot project, let's see what the scooters look like in the part of town that we've identified,'" Romero-Wirth said. "And then we try it out, and based on the pilot we say, 'Nope, this is awful, people don't like it, it's got all the problems that we're all familiar with,' then we still have the ban in place."

The city could use "geofencing" to keep scooters within a specific neighborhood, both during the pilot program and after, if the council were to decide that the scooters belonged only in specific parts of the city, according to Romero-Wirth. She says that technology exists that would shut off the scooters if they crossed into a part of town where they were not permitted.

Albuquerque has deliberated whether to pursue a similar program, and recently decided to move forward with a pilot project.