Citing Safety Concerns, San Francisco Moves to Control Scooter Sprawl

Cornelia Mascio
Aprile 20, 2018

Amid an onslaught of motor scooters zooming down sidewalks and cluttering walkways, San Francisco legislators on Tuesday voted unanimously to start regulating the latest gadget in transportation sharing technology.

Each of the three scooter-on-demand companies operating in the city - Spin, LimeBike, and Bird -were hit with cease and desist letters on Monday. However, the Board of Supervisors is voting to allow the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority to impose a permitting process in May.

Bird scooter parked in front of Hyde Street residence.

"In the ever-evolving courageous new world of shared mobility technology, these scooters are certainly something that can in some cases help in San Francisco's complex world of transportation challenges", Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who authored the legislation, said Tuesday. "[Sidewalks] are not the places where people going at 15 miles per hour should use those".

So far, the San Francisco Department of Public Works confiscated 61 dockless electric scooters off the streets since Wednesday.

Leaving scooters unattended on streets and sidewalks also violates state law, Herrera said in the letter.

These startups let people reserve a local scooter from a smartphone app, ride for a small fee, and, at the end of the journey, leave the scooter wherever to be claimed by the next rider.

This week, San Francisco's city attorney declared them a "public nuisance" and issued "cease and desist" orders to the three companies operating them after the scooters were left strewn around the city. Residents have complained of the scooters routinely blocking sidewalks and building entrances, causing people to trip, and making sidewalks less accessible for people who use wheelchairs.

"As the only San Francisco-based company offering scooter share, it's extremely important to us to continue working with the SFMTA, Board of Supervisors and community interest groups, such as Walk SF and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, to ensure that we're addressing public concerns", Spin spokeswoman Rachel Starr said in an email Tuesday. It will allow the company to catch violators and suspend or deactivate their accounts. "We are confident that by continuing to work with the city, we can build a framework that can make San Francisco a leader in bringing new mobility options that curb traffic and greenhouse gas emissions".

Spin and LimeBike have not responded to request for comment from Business Insider.

Peskin introduced his ordinance on March 6 after seeing the scooters descend on other cities, such as Santa Monica.

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