Atlanta’s Night Mayor Will Govern More Than Parties

Atlanta is planning to focus on night-shift workers, part of a growing consciousness around night mayors’ responsibility to everyone who shares the night, whether that’s workers, people who are homeless or leisure seekers.

November 23, 2021, 9:00 AM PST

By rkaufman

Atlanta, Georgia, Downtown, Skyline, Dusk

apple.white2010 / Flickr

In a span of three months, four people on e-scooters were killed by a vehicle — all but one at night. That’s when Atlanta took action. The mayor enacted a nighttime ban on e-scooters that shut off the devices every day from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Atlanta councilmember Amir Farokhi recalls the upset response he received when the ban was announced in 2019, reports Adina Solomon.

“I got a bunch of emails from people who work at night and got off at like 11, 12 o’clock, saying, ‘Hey, I was using the scooter to get home or to get to the train station. Now I can’t use it anymore,’” he says.

Two years later, the ban is still in place and a micro-mobility option is denied to anyone out after 9 p.m. It’s clear to Farokhi now: This is the kind of situation that calls for a night mayor, a city official who oversees activities and addresses issues that happen overnight. He proposed the idea of Atlanta hiring a night mayor. In October, this got a step closer to realization when the city council approved a feasibility study looking at the prospect.

Since the first night mayor was elected in Amsterdam in 2012, more cities around the world have created the position too. This is especially true in Europe and the U.S. Oftentimes, night mayors concentrate on nightlife and entertainment. But in addition to those elements, Atlanta is planning to focus on night-shift workers.

It’s part of a growing consciousness around night mayors’ responsibility to everyone who shares the night, whether that’s workers, people who are homeless or leisure seekers.

“There’s a much broader spectrum of stuff that happens at night in a city,” Farokhi says. “In a really vibrant city, there’s a fully-fledged nighttime economy, which frankly doesn’t get the same attention that the daytime economy gets.”

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