WeHo City Council to Consider Electric Scooter Test Program at Its Monday Meeting

 

The Bird, the Bird. The Bird is the word. (And then there’s Lime, of course).

Those two e-scooter companies are leaders in the latest disruptive industry to pop up in American cities, and investors are betting hundreds of millions of dollars that they will be as successful as Airbnb and Uber. Monday night, the City of West Hollywood, which continues to struggle with regulating home sharing and ride hailing services, will decide how to deal with electric scooter sharing.

An item on the Council’s agenda proposes to authorize electric scooters for a six-month test. In a memo to the Council, City Hall staffers note that “electric scooter sharing systems are emerging nationwide and provide viable mobility solutions in regions with heavy traffic congestion.”

The systems allow a user to download a mobile phone app to find a nearby scooter and then book it for a ride. Bird charges an initial fee of $1 and 15 cents for each minute of use. Riders are required to wear a helmet and be at least 18 years old. The scooters can travel up to 15 miles per hour. Bird and Lime and others use GPS and other technologies to track the locations of the scooters. Some West Hollywood residents are using their own scooters, which can be purchased online for as little as $99.

WeHo resident parking his own electric scooter outside Basix restaurant.

The electric scooter companies use what are called dockless parking. That means a user can leave the scooter anywhere he or she wants, and the company will track it through GPS and pick it up. Some require that the scooters be left in virtual “corrals,” or designated places.

A memo to the Council from City Hall staffers note that the scooters use the public right-of-way.

“Current law prohibits blocking sidewalks and imposes requirements on the operation of scooters, but there are no specific restrictions on electric scooter share programs,” the memo says. “Electric scooters have the potential to complement our existing transportation network by providing an additional mobility option. However, electric scooters also have the potential to clutter the public right-of-way and impact public safety.”

The City Hall proposal would, during the six-month test period:

— Limit participants in the pilot program to three operators, each of whom would be issued permits for 50 scooters

— Require the scooter-sharing companies to provide the city access to data it can use to analyze the pilot program and learn the locations of the scooters for law enforcement and monitoring.

— Let the city place restrictions on hours of operation, number and location of scooter.

— Restrict parking of the scooters to certain areas.

— Require proof of insurance from the scooter owners.

“Staff would work with Transportation Commission to refine pilot program requirements,” the memo says. “A 6-month pilot program will allow the city to test the concept of private electric scooter sharing systems in West Hollywood, assess the quality of various vendors, and collect and analyze data upon the conclusion of the pilot program. Staff would return to Council with the findings from the pilot program to receive further direction.”

Bird electric scooter seemingly abandoned outside LASC on Santa Monica Boulevard.

The scooter pilot program is likely to be opposed by some residents, who already have objected to bicycles on sidewalks in areas that don’t have bike lanes.

West Hollywood had its first experience with electric scooters in late March and early April when Lime, headquartered in San Mateo, suddenly dropped them on city sidewalks. While some residents were enthusiastic about them, others complained that they blocked pedestrian traffic and were a safety hazard.

Other Southern California cities are struggling to deal with the issue. The City of Santa Monica recently authorized an 18-month test of electric scooters and electric bikes the will begin in September. Santa Monica, where Bird is headquartered, sued the company last year for illegally distributing its scooters throughout the city. The lawsuit was settled in February with Bird agreeing to pay $300,000 in fines and to obtain a business license.

Santa Monica’s pilot program will require electric-scooter and electric-bike companies to apply for a permit and pay a $20,000 annual fee and a fee of $130 per vehicle.

The City Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the City Council Chambers, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. Parking is free in the five-story structure behind the Chambers with a ticket validated in the lobby.


35 Comments
  1. This scooter program will be abused tremendously . They just want to dominate the sidewalks and expect pedestrians to give them the right-of-way! Never mind that we already as residents, and pedestrians, have to move aside with multiple tourists, teenagers and students, transients, homeless, and yes the workforce making no courtesy to signal and expect to speed past and it clutters the sidewalks. Let’s not forget what people on Segways do with these tour companies that give unpermitted tours in Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, it’s tourgide or 4 or 5 people at a time! I was almost collided with by 2 birds in the City of Santa Monica this past weekend. These people try to speed up and pass you On the sidewalks or cut you off while walking on the streets or on crosswalks. A collision will occur and they take up so much space if more than one are on their scooters as a group. I can’t tolerate the brazen and unapologetic public that are discourteous or even rude when they want the pedestrian move aside instantly or travel according to their terms! Just see these one wheel rapid boards that turn corners or speed away. These scooters will become the next wave of hit-and-run or accidents and I will not have broken bones over unphased or immature or oblivious riders who will just escape consequence. Do not allow this program. It is set up to abuse the sidewalks and streets. Thank You.

    1. These companies are first and foremost disruptors offering you something trendy you didn’t know you needed.. They feel no responsibility to those caught in the wake. If you re silly enough to think this can be managed, think again. There is not enough code enforcement for other issues already on the books.

      WALK! It will improve your health and well being.

  2. Scooters are a fad just like bike sharing was fad and look at how that’s worked out for the City of WeHo? As a blind, disabled pedestrian who uses a Guide Dog to get from place to place, scooters represent a significant additional safety threat which me and my dog will have to negotiate. I can see many problems with blocking sidewalks, riding on sidewalks and causing accidents (scooters aren’t street legal unless they’re in bike lanes which are only on Santa Monica Blvd.). I’m not against finding better ways for people to get around but this scooter fad is (hopefully) short lived and not worthy of a “Creative City” which already has had significant lapses in it’s concern for pedestrian safety. Look what it took to get guarded crossings on Santa Monica, the price was far too high and counted in lives lost…

  3. Curious as to why “Bird electric scooter seemingly abandoned outside LASC on Santa Monica Boulevard.” was the caption picked for an image of a Bird parked out of the path of travel in a tree well?

    If I could upload an image, I’d upload a picture of a car parked on the street with the caption “Car seemingly abandoned outside LASC on Santa Monica Boulevard.”

    1. Yes, but the car is a designated parking space, and paying to use it. The scooter is tossed against a tree, so the comparison doesn’t really apply…

      1. And “seemingly abandoned?” That’s how the program works! You leave it where you are done with it. They take up far much less clutter than the bike share program.

  4. I think WEHOville needs to add sanity to the screening of comments. Some of these are totally ridiculous ramblings of some unhappy people.

    1. Hank is going to regulate inconsiderate and rude people, that is all. People who attack other commenters. I believe the nature of people who comment on internet articles (and, to a large degree, comment on Facebook posts) are complainers. People with negative opinions.

  5. Sorry too many vehicles on side walk I turn corner walking with friend and boom

    Walking my dog is not safe with so so so many on the side walk or crossing the streets

    50% of bike riders run thru the stop signs on the street. Cars forget about. Trucks yesterday two

    Let’s see skateboarders and other wheeled vehicles never stop. Never.

    Why do we need another gimmick to cause accidents or run through my dog and I on the street we lived

  6. One of these things blocks my walking on a sidewalk and I’ll just pick it up and drop it in the nearest trash bin. I will not yield the right of way on a sidewalk to these things (and they will be ridden on sidewalks). I’m a big guy so please, ride your new toy on the sidewalk and while you are looking for the right play list – run into me. You will quickly find your ass on the ground hopefully with a broken tail bone.

    1. This post will come in handy if and when you go through with your threatened physical act of violence, and are hopefully arrested for it.

  7. A fuzzy area of concern for those who write regulations regarding all forms of wheeled vehicles. Sidewalks should be for pedestrians only – or why bother? Regulators need to pull their heads from those dark smelly places and take charge of this new direction of city transit. Until then be prepared to do battle with scooters, skateboards, cycles.

    1. It is not against the law to ride a bicycle on a sidewalk, unless there is a specific designated area where it is illegal, and signs are posted (e.g., where bike lanes are on SMB). I believe a scooter is a “motorized vehicle,” and is not allowed at all (I could be incorrect about this). I find it kind of ironic, as they weigh far less, and don’t go nearly as fast. That said, I’m not saying they should be allowed on the sidewalk, but if they are not, already, and bicycles are, that makes no sense to me.

  8. I don’t think these things should be allowed on sidewalks, just like skateboards and bikes. If a pedestrian is hit by any of those three while on the sidewalk. He/She could fall backwards, hit his/her head on the concrete and die from internal bleeding before the paramedics arrive. My Partner, a Nurse Practitioner Trauma Specialist sees this often in the ER. This just opens the City up to more lawsuits. City Council should take that issue off the Agenda. I agree with everything “wehoboy” said.

  9. I don’t know! Just because we can, does it mean we should? As a walker I think I would sue the city the first time one of these mowed me down. You know the drivers will expect everyone to get out of their way and can you imagine the ‘road rage”!!! But alas,seems everyone simply has to have every new thing that comes along.

    1. Mind you that they are REQUIRED to have insurance and, if they hit you, there is no shortage of Attorneys that will get you a serious settlement. A few “road raging” motorists from beverly hills feeling entitled to a universal right of way, hit me on a few occasions (once as a pedestrian, twice on a motor scooter and, once in a car) and, their insurance companies ended up paying out some serious settlements. This includes the motorist who got out of the vehicle to assault me on the scooter and, was found responsible for the damages. Now you would surprised how many beverly hills residents are going out of their way to avoid contact with me! 🙂

  10. I have heard great things about these in Santa Monica. However, from my observations when they were tested here in March, many people (who were visibly drunk from Sunday Funday) were on the sidewalks and darting in and out of traffic along SMB. Also, these same people had more than one person on them at a time. From witnessing that, I wasn’t surprised when the scooters all of a sudden disappeared from Weho the following week.

    When we live in a city in which many pedestrians are already getting hit by cars, adding another motorized scooter on the roads doesn’t seem like the wisest thing to do unless these will be monitored closely so that the fools among us don’t ruin it for the rest of the community. If the Weho law enforcement think they have the manpower to enforce any broken laws, etc, then I think we should give the scooters a try again. But if the city council is just going to stamp “YES” on the idea without thinking this through, then it’s time to take a breath and contemplate some more.

  11. This captions says it all: “Bird electric scooter seemingly abandoned outside LASC on Santa Monica Boulevard.”

    ABANDONED. Just see the picture above, it’s either thrown against a tree or in the middle of the sidewalk. They are a NOVELTY. Nothing more.

    And driving one in WEHO is dangerous with the pot/drugged people. Probably even worse than being hit on a bike. I think they are a HUGE mistake. Cute for kids, I get it. But not practical in a congested city. They belong at the beach or maybe an enclosed, nice suburban development. I think they need to be banned.

  12. I don’t see a problem other than requiring helmets. You don’t need a helmet on a 15mph scooter, you can run that fast.

  13. Perhaps first, a mental stability test for the council members tasked with voting to open this can of worms. Pretty soon we will have jet pack drones transporting folks around town. “Hey it’s fun, what could possibly go wrong”! “I’m just going down the street for a beer and a joint.”

  14. They block the sidewalk, they are dangerous since most people don’t wear a helmet with them. They park them anywhere. On Sunset Blvd. I’ve seen them parked right in the middle of the sidewalk, I almost walked into one. People take little care as to where they are placed when they are finished using them. People always ride them on the sidewalk which is dangerous to pedestrians. And of course people WALK in West Hollywood. It’s convenient to walk if you live in the village and good exercise. Get some air and breathe and walk people.

    They are a NUISANCE. They only belong on beach bike paths.

  15. Let’s see, we have more and more people walking around high smoking pot on the sidewalks…add into the mix scooters going 15mph in addition to the skateboarders and bicyclists, and homeless pushing shopping carts…not to mention the discarded scooters, hey, what could go wrong..? After we have a slew of injuries, there will be an outcry from concerned residents and then the City will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to commission a study on pedestrian safety to fix the problem. LOL. (they DO look fun to run around on though)

    1. City already made sidewalks for skateboarders, bicyclists, and homeless carts not for pedestrians. Most of walkers are old and need a safe sidewalk.

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