Let’s Discuss: What Can, or Should, West Hollywood Do about Shared Electric Scooters?

Father and daughter riding a scooter in Plummer Park.

So now what?

The West Hollywood City Council passed a law on June 18 barring companies from renting shared electric scooters in WeHo. This past Sunday, a map on the Bird electric scooter app showed dozens of them available for rent on the sidewalks of West Hollywood. A map on the Lime electric scooter app shows a few more. It looks as if Goat, Mobiscoot, Skip and Spin have yet to make it to WeHo.

And of course anyone walking around our city, the 17th most densely populated in the United States, has seen those scooters clicking down the streets and sidewalks and in the parks, with a ridership that appears to be composed largely of millennials.

Scooter riders stopping for a chat on Santa Monica Boulevard.

So the topic up for discussion is “Now What”?

The City Council’s decision was in response to a proposal by the Public Works and Planning and Development Services departments to conduct a six-month test of the shared electric scooter phenomenon in West Hollywood, after which the city could decide whether to embrace them or ban them. Councilmember John D’Amico voted against it, essentially arguing that the scooters were inevitable.  Other council members complained about the scooters being left on sidewalks and being ridden on sidewalks. Councilmember John Heilman was especially upset that Lime dumped many scooters on the sidewalks of West Hollywood, without the city’s permission, in an apparent effort to promote its service.

Even with the ban, it is legal for someone who rents a scooter outside the city limits to ride it into West Hollywood.  Also, private businesses can provide their own spaces for docking such scooters.  Dan Mick, the city’s code compliance supervisor, says it also is legal for WeHo residents who own their own scooters to drive them, so long as they don’t use them on sidewalks.

The proposal would have allowed a maximum of three companies to each locate up to 50 scooters within the city for six months. The companies would be required to share ridership data with the city, which would put restrictions on hours of operation and location of the scooters.  If the city agrees to license shared electric scooters, it would see some revenue.  The City of Santa Monica is considering a plan where scooter companies would pay a licensing fee of $20,000 per year, with a $130 fee per scooter.

Should the West Hollywood City Council reconsider its decision and implement the test suggested by City Hall?

If the city doesn’t allowed shared electric scooters to be rented on the sidewalks of West Hollywood, what can it effectively do to ban them? And how can it let those likely to rent such scooters know that they can’t leave them on WeHo streets and sidewalks when they are finished?

 

A map of Bird scooters from the shared scooter company’s app.

61 Comments
  1. Poor people need to move out of weho or buy a car. It’s as simple as that. GTFO with the stupid scooters. They litter our streets and bring in the unwanted. The first time one dings my Mercedes, I’m going to prosecute. Who is insured on these? Huh?

    1. How nice a man who can afford a Mercedes is saying poor people need to move or get a car.

      I’m not poor and I don’t want a car. I spend less on uber and Bird than a car and insurance and the $200 a month to park in my building. Take your privilege elsewhere.

      1. Indeed. I drive 75 miles a month, and in a vehicle that is 18 years old. I gas up about once every 6 weeks, and pay $50 for insurance. I cherish living and working in our neighborhood, where it is so easy to get around by walking, bicycling, buses, trolleys, Uber, and now these scooters. Why would I waste money on a fancy vehicle that I would barely drive? I’d ditch my vehicle all-together, if I didn’t have to make trips to the grocery store, or trips outside of the neighborhood.

        David, not every person who lives in this city is as privileged as you, and they shouldn’t have to be to live here. And some are as privileged as you, and still prefer not to drive. We need less vehicles on the road. And to learn how to share it.

  2. C’mon people! Keep an open mind. Yes, there needs to be rules and regulations just like there does with cars and bikes, but once established, I can see how these can be very useful and take cars off our already gridlocked streets. I hopped on one the other day for the first time and I am almost 60. Not a millennial lol….. I’m sold. Great fun and a wonderful idea for short hops on those days I may not feel like walking to the gym or Trader Joes. OK, crucify me for not wanting to walk but why not have the option!? Aren’t there days when you want a work out but walking may not be part of the plan? This holds true especially if you work out at Equinox at the top of the hill.

  3. Better you ban them now before they start rolling around inside the Pavilions with a “service” dog in tow.

  4. I think they are an amazing idea and they should be embraced and people should be educated on safety and where to ride. Let’s face it, the scooters aren’t the problem, it’s people who are resistant to change and who can’t use common sense while riding.

    I imagine these could motivate more and more people to leave their car home for short trips to the gym, office, and are an evolutionary step towards better, less expensive, cleaner, personal transportation. I imagine as self driving electric cars are more prolific, less cars will be bought, on the road, and personal vehicles will be smaller and likely shared – starting with these amazing scooters.

    1. Hey I have an idea for short trips to the gym or office……how about WALKING?!!!

      Walking, what a concept, it’s good for you and good for the environment.

      1. EC, spot on. As you said, “those who can’t use common sense while riding” are the problem.

        Manny, I have an idea … how about you let people make their own decisions about alternative forms of transportation? I’m not advocating breaking the law (scooters on sidewalks, people w/o helmets on scooters). You’ve posted a lot about “no bicycles on sidewalks,” also. If that is important to you, have you thought about trying to get the law changed? Because that is legal, except where expressly prohibited.

        I believe the laws should be enforced (see my comment below, the first comment posted). But I’m not here to tell people how they should get from one place to another. That is for them to decide. Whether they are renting a vehicle, or not.

        1. Well “Randy”, 4 out of 5 Weho council members disagree with you. So in March, you can vote only for the one that voted against the ban. Oh wait!….you don’t live on Weho!

          1. No, 4 out 5 Council Members enacted a “ban” on scooter rentals (not them, as a concept), which does absolutely *nothing.* Legal to rent them there, ride them there, leave them there, as acknowledged by D’Amico. Further, Heilman voted based on a cruddy decision by Lime (see my comment below).

            It doesn’t matter whether I live in WeHo or not. I can currently rent one here or there, ride one into here or there, and leave one here or there.

            But my last comment was to your statement about telling people to walk. How about you let people decide how they want to get around? Actually, they are going to. I’m not advocating disobeying any laws by saying that.

    2. It’s not that people are resistant to change they are “resistant to using common sense, following the law and having consideration for others” while playing with their shiny new toy. They will rationalize any nutty idea then discard it as soon as the next thing comes along.

  5. Bird settled with the City of Santa Monica for $300,000.plus they have to get licenses. A friend who lives there says many residents are so fed up with the scooters being all over the place and tripping over them, that they are throwing them in dumpsters. Do we really want our Sheriffs trying to enforce these things and handing out tickets???

    1. That’s only one version of what’s happening in Santa Monica. Many people love them and are using them as last mile transportation from the subway to their final destination. People use the bike lanes and have learned not to be on the sidewalk, but it takes some education and a learning curve.

      1. Talking points “last mile”…..no such thing.

        No one is using it to go a mile from mass transit. People need to get to work not take joyrides for $6.

        1. How do you know this? That “no one” is using it for that? I did this very thing, just the other day, on a scooter (with a helmet, not on the sidewalk).

          I used to take my bike, all the time, to “close the gap” between my place and the nearest bus stop. Then lock my bike there, or put it on the bus bike rack, and sometimes using it to “close the gap” to where I’m going. The length of time (and connections) dissuade a lot of people from using public transit. When you add the time it can take to get to transit stops, it can turn out to be quite a chunk of time to get from one place to another.

          Bicycles, and now scooters, can sometimes actually make taking public transportation easier. I’ve seen it happen with others, and I know it happens, because I’ve done it myself.

          Also, it isn’t anywhere near $6. I believe Bird charges a base of $1, and then $0.15 per mile.

  6. Two weeks ago when I was in Santa Monica outside the Jamba Juice at 6th and Santa Monica Blvd. several scooters came whizzing towards me on the sidewalk where I was standing and I was able to move fast enough even thought the younger guy riding it jumped off and stopped it cause it almost hit me. I am not an senior citizen and not physically impaired and I do not have to use a cane or walker so I am not sure the safety part will be for those who can’t see a scooter coming fast towards them or can move out of the way to prevent being hit. On that note about 2 years ago I was in Beverly Hills and when I was turning the corner a kid was on his bicycle on the sidewalk riding extremely fast and almost knocked me down. Again I don’t know how an older or handicap person will be able to maneuver fast enough in situations like this.

  7. The number of scooters in use speaks to their popularity.
    Go back to fighting windmills and give them a chance!

    1. Scooters, like everything young people do these days, are a fad. Six months, they’ll be bored with them and then move on to something else. Remember how the Segway was going to change the world? Same thing…

  8. Scooters aren’t inherently bad; it is the people who need to be regulated.

    Rules:
    No scooters on sidewalks. Maybe only ban on occupied sidewalks – and maybe learn to share space. TBD.
    No dumping scooters just any old place. TBD.
    Irresponsible behavior will be fined. TBD.

    We own this city.
    You own this platform, Mr Scott. What do you think?

    They cannot pose a hazard for pedestrians and pets.
    Hire some homeless people to monitor – and there’s nothing to do if all goes well.

    Since this is inevitable, be more proactive than a ban.

    A concerted effort to accommodate can be found.
    Hold meetings and hearings and continue to encourage a dialogue here at WEHOVille.

  9. get these and any motorized vehicles except those used by the disabled OFF OF THE SIDEWALKS. I am sick of watching seniors and unknowing pedestrians getting pushed to the side or nearly clipped. THESE THINGS ARE FAST AND DANGEROUS. Our sidewalks have turned into a violent video game. I have taken pictures of either owners or employees of these companies giving lessons ON THE SIDEWALK. GET THIS PROBLEM FIXED, like NOW.

    1. That’s the problem with the ban. A missed opportunity to educate people about the sidewalks. Regulating them would have allowed for education on best practices and the law. Now they’re just going to be renegade. WeHo missed the boat.

    2. Our world has become a violent video game!
      Unfortunately one cannot legislate common sense.
      Put yourself on the receiving end, or your parent or grandparent or any small child or elderly that becomes fair game for irresponsible “creative types” that claim to have the latest, shiniest, hip gadget of distraction that monetizes its way into their pockets far ahead of sensibility.
      Irresponsibility has been unleashed BECAUSE IT PAYS! Once out there, no matter how idiotic, they get caught, pay a fine and laugh all the way to the bank.

    3. Jimmy thank you for thinking of us Seniors. I have been walking my dog on the sidewalk, several times now, when someone on a Scooter comes flying by and almost knocks me over. These Scooters are fast and can be dangerous and should not be allowed on sidewalks.

  10. If you haven’t tried one, you should get the two by four out of your bottom and drive to Santa Monica, let your hair down and take a Bird for a spin along the beach. It’s actually quite fun and will make you feel like a kid again. We could all use that reminder. Everything seems to be so uptight and controlled these days, why does the City control my fun?

    1. Yes, this is all true, but they’re not just for beach riding. They are actually a viable mode of transport.

      1. They are NOT a viable mode of transportation. No matter how much your boss tells you to say that, it ain’t gonna make it true. They are a reckless joyride for juveniles, nothing more.

        1. Clearly, you haven’t left WeHo on a while. In Santa Monica they are being used to get around the city. Also, j don’t work for any scooter company. I’m not a millennial either.

          1. Yes, I’m a 45 year-old man. I’m not a “reckless juvenile.” Manny, you make a lot of general statements and assumptions, only based on what you have witnessed. I’d like to know how you know so much about everyone who uses these, how they use them, what demographic they are in, etc.. These are your opinions, not based on facts, or research of any kind, only what you have witnessed. And I don’t work for a scooter company, either.

  11. The block the sidewalks, our sidewalks are broken and dangerous to use for them.
    People don’t wear helmets.
    They are an eyesore. Look like toys cluttering up the neighborhood “parked” or should I say thrown in the most odd places.
    Weho should sue the companies for allowing them to be parked here.

    1. Eyesores? Half the City is an eyesore. WeHo Pedals is an eyesore. The City’s own graphics are eyesores. Come on now.

  12. I think what’s very disappointing is how they are often left in the way and in some cases block the path of wheelchairs etc. In some places, like Venice, where they are ubiquitous, it is such a shame how they are left all over the bike path (which is congested enough already) and sidewalks and block the way, sometimes leading to dangerous situations. bigger things to deal with — sure — but it also really is something how they have become obstacles (because of the way people deal with them, of course — i certainly don’t think the scooters are an inherently bad thing themselves) — i agree they look fun, and think they can help a lot as far as getting around without a car which is great! But it sure would be nice if people (and the companies) thought of others when they thought about where they drop them off. good luck with that–i know.

  13. Comments on this thread are missing the point! These scooters are VERY dangerous AND FAST!!! I have been nearly hit 3 times and my dog was almost hit ON THE SIDEWALK by a scooter going, I swear, 25MPH!!! That is a dangerous speed with no brakes! Until you are nearly hit and injured by these UNREGULATED scooters, you too will understand the need for regulation and consequences to using them unresponsibly! Users of the scooter’s are using them at full speed ON THE BUSY SIDEWALK AMONGST PEOPLE, PETS AND CHILDREN! Users are NOT wearing helmets and are not using the bike lanes on the streets and they “dispose” of them ANYWHERE (middle of sidewalk, on the ground…basically wherever the user drops it) because there are no docking stations that I have seen! Again, let me repeat; they are traveling at very HIGH SPEEDS! The speed in which they travel is extremely dangerous and unacceptable to be used on public sidewalks among people walking! Worse than bikes on the sidewalk, which I am also very opposed to. We already have issues with bike riders using the sidewalk instead of the street or bike lanes with no law enforcement acting on the NO BIKES ON SIDEWALKS LAW. I 100% agree that these scooters MUST be regulated and rules governed by law enforcement to insure safety for the public at large. I have yet to see West Hollywood Sheriff’s stop and reprimand any scooter user using the sidewalk going at full speed! Why aren’t they???!

    1. I’m with you on this. They are not going to be used responsibly.
      I want the city to remove them whenever they are unattended since they are brought in from other cities. We should fine those other cities for allowing them to be thrown around our city endangering our neighborhood.

    2. This is an exaggeration. The maximum speed or Bird scooters is 15 MPH. I am not advocating anyone riding them on the sidewalks. That’s against the law.

    3. Absurd claims. Get your facts straight. They can’t go that fast.

      They’re unregulated cause they’re banned. They should have done a trial to figure out how they should be regulated.

  14. The City dropped the ball on this one. No one is going to stop at the city border and leave their scooter, plus they are not even illegal to ride within the city, so now we are just missing the opportunity to regulate and educate. It will take some proactive messaging on the City’s part to get people off the sidewalk and keep people safe, and a ban doesn’t accomplish that. Gosh this City loves bans. When will we take the “progressive” city moniker off our self-promotion. This is a super progressive transportation reality that we should get ahead of ASAP!

  15. Pedestrians have no benefit whatsoever from these scooters. They are a nuisance and a possible danger to people walking on the sidewalk.

    I understand that the company wants to make as much money as possible, by I object.

    If the scooters allowed, they should have to obey the same rules as bicycle riders. No riding on sidewalks, and maybe helmets required. And it’s not reasonable for the scooters to be abandoned wherever around town. The scooter vendors need to install some type of system where the scooters can be stored, and not in front of my West Hollywood apartment building.

    I’m curious to see the lawsuits that come from injuries to riders and pedestrians.

    1. Please refer to my comment below. There’s no helmet law in CA for bicyclists, unless they are under 18. There’s also no law against riding bicycles on the sidewalk, except where expressly prohibited (the bike lane stretch of SMB from Kings to Doheny, or thereabouts). There *is* a law against riding a scooter w/o a helmet and riding one on the sidewalk. I believe it is because they are considered a motorized vehicle.

      I don’t think the world is going to fall apart if we get rid of this “ban.”

    2. There are 100s of them in Santa Monica and none of the doom and gloom that’s being predicted has happened. It’s working there.

  16. Throw them in the trash (kidding, call the company and demand that they be removed). I found one abandoned in the middle of Kings Road blocking the sidewalk for pedestrians, handicapped, etc. Or they are thrown in the parkway and just looks like the street is littered as if a kid didn’t put away his toys.

    They are a danger and nuisance. People DO NOT wear helmets. They are going to get killed on these things treating them like toys as they swerve in traffic, hit pedestrians, etc. They are for the beach and enclosed developments/wharehouses, etc.

  17. Exactly! As a resident I think scooters is way better that those bikes, who nobody use. Let people use scooters!

  18. The majority of the Council, 4-1, made the progressive, pragmatic and grown-up decision to BAN these on-demand scooters…..NO the city should not reconsider that decision.

    The city now needs to legally require the scooter companies to block the ability to rent scooters on their app if the scooter is within the City of West Hollywood. The city would then confiscate abandoned scooters and instigate a very expensive impoundment fee. Daily enforcement and citations given by just one sheriff standing on the sidewalk at SMB and Robertson would also be an effective way to get the message out.

    BTW, it is unconscionable that the man pictured above, would take a young child for a joyride on a motorized vehicle, without a helmet and inside of a public park……But that’s what we’re up against folks.

      1. I doubt the silly fad will last two years. But I’m ok with them being everywhere, EXCEPT the sidewalk. Unfortunately all indications show that your outlaw scooter gang will never learn to, or cares to, stay on the street.

  19. Why can’t we just enjoy them? It looks fun. Why does everything have to be a “problem”. Those two people with their scooters standing on the sidewalk…that’s an example of a menacing problem? It gets people out and about more, shopping at retailers, eating at restaurants, enjoying the city…

    1. Seriously. We have real problems to deal with. This is actually a longterm solution to many problems. Traffic, parking, congestion….

    2. I agree! This is a much better solution than the Weho Pedals failure. The bike share is not effective, however; the scooters offer an easy effective way to mobilize around the area and is super convenient. Don’t be afraid, enjoy.
      I honestly can think of many more menacing problems to deal with than waging a war against scooters.

  20. John D’Amico was the only Council Member who had any sense with this vote. As stated in this article, the ban means nothing, as people can legally rent them anywhere, bring them into West Hollywood, leave them there, and even rent them there. Lime was wrong to dump the scooters, but Heilman shouldn’t have voted the way he did because of one bad business decision.

    San Francisco is working on this problem right now, but that city isn’t bordered with so many cities, the way West Hollywood is. In other words, as long as Los Angeles allows them, they will be brought into, and used in West Hollywood. And it won’t be illegal.

    So I think they should let it go, embrace them as an alternative form of transportation, let these companies rent them (whatever that means, as this bans stops nothing), and stop trying to be “big brother.” They should put more officers on the streets and actually cite people for riding them on the sidewalk, as well as bicycles, where it is illegal to ride them on the sidewalk, and cite people for not wearing helmets on scooters, and for people texting and driving. I spend a lot of time near the Starbucks across from 24 Hour Fitness, and I think the tickets they could issue on that block, alone, would pay for an officer’s time.

    Regarding the “clutter,” the barely-used bike share program takes up way more space, is a bit unsightly, and they rent them at major thoroughfares, and don’t require or offer helmets (there’s no bicycle helmet law for people 18 and older in CA).

    Also, for anyone who hasn’t tried Bird, I can tell you that they walk you through all of the laws when installing the app, including the requirement that you wear a helmet, not ride on the sidewalk, and not leave it in the right of way. They even send you a free helmet, with $1.99 for shipping. Of course there will always be people who don’t follow the rules, but they seem to be making an earnest attempt to make people aware.

  21. The City dropped the ball on this. Now there will be no regulation, even though Scooters are allowed to be “driven” through the city. Also, no one is going to stop and think, I’m now in WeHO, so I won’t leave a scooter here. There is a major education campaign needed about not riding on sidewalks and other safety issues, but now we will behind the curve on that instead of ahead. When can we take the “progressive city” moniker off all of our self promotion?

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