WeHo City Council Moves Forward with Ban on Scooters Despite Opposition from Young Residents

Lime-S electric scooters in front of Shake Shack on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood.

In a 4-to-1 vote, the West Hollywood City Council moved ahead tonight with its ban on companies leaving electric scooters for rent within the city limits and in establishing a penalty for those companies that do so.

The vote came after comments in favor of the dockless electric scooter rental system from several young WeHo residents, who argued that riding short distances on electric scooters rather than in cars was environmentally friendly, helped them avoid problems with traffic and parking and is part of the future of transportation.

Councilmember John D’Amico, a supporter of the electric scooters, noted the age gap between the supporters of electric scooters and their opponents. “This is the first time this many people under 35 have shown up for anything,” he said of the number of scooter system supporters in the Council Chambers.

D’Amico said he was disappointed that the Council, at an earlier meeting, had rejected a City Hall proposal to do a six-month pilot test of rented electric scooters in favor of an outright ban.

“It breaks my heart to see that our city is turning out back on young people in this way,” D’Amico said.

Other Council members supported a ban, noting the risks that the unlicensed vehicles posed for people walking on the city’s sidewalks and the risks to scooter drivers who don’t wear the helmets required by law.

Electric scooters have begun appearing on city streets across the country in recent months. A number of cities such as San Francisco and Santa Monica initially fought them but now are implementing pilot programs to figure out how to regulate them. Los Angeles also plans to implement such a program.

A rider can find a scooter using a mobile phone app and then rent it on the spot. The typical price is an initial fee of $1 and an additional 15 cents per minute The companies that own them use GPS tracking to discover where a rider leaves a scooter and then alert other prospective riders to its location. Scooters that are not picked up by other riders are retrieved up by the owner at some point in the day. The scooters are called “dockless” because they aren’t stationed at any designated location.

State laws enacted before the recent surge in popularity of such scooters allows anyone 16 years of age or older to ride an electric scooter with a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour. However, that person must have a driver’s license or permit and must wear a helmet. The driver cannot carry a second rider on the scooter. Also the driver cannot ride on a city sidewalk but must ride in a bicycle lane. If there isn’t a bicycle lane available, which is the case on most of West Hollywood’s streets, the scooter must be in a car lane. However, the state bars scooters from riding in such lanes on streets with a speed limit of more than 25 miles per hour, which would include most WeHo cross streets such as Santa Monica Boulevard and Fountain Avenue.

In explaining his opposition to the scooters, Councilmember John Heilman called out a recent incident where he encountered a blind person walking on the sidewalk on Santa Monica Boulevard who was approaching a scooter left parked in the middle of the sidewalk. Heilman said that if he hadn’t moved the scooter out of the way, the pedestrian might have been injured.

Heilman also objected to the way scooter companies such as Lime and Bird had promoted their scooters by dropping them on city streets without working with the city to regulate them. On March 30, dozens of Lime scooters suddenly appeared on city sidewalks.

“I resent businesses thinking they can use the public right of way,” Heilman said. “If you want to work with people, you come to them in advance and say we’d like to work with you in your city. You don’t come in after the fact …”

Councilmembers Lauren Meister and Lindsey Horvath and Mayor John Duran noted the lack of infrastructure in West Hollywood to support travel by scooters. Duran said traveling on sidewalks is a particular problem.

“Our sidewalks are part of the commons and we already have severe competition for what happens on the commons,” Duran said, noting the presence of sidewalk cafes and people walking their dogs

Horvath suggested the city look into possibility of allowing local businesses such as hotels to partner with the scooter companies so that they could drop off scooters on the businesses property. Meister said the city should take a look at ways it might deal with the infrastructure issues in the future.


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Emily
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Emily

Can we ban Hollywood tour buses from using WeHo city streets but allow these scooters to stay? I think that’s a great deal.

Bobby
Guest
Bobby

Tour buses obey the rules and laws.

Observer
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Observer

Why not just walk? There is a lot to see in WeHo when you walk.

UCSBGRAD
Guest
UCSBGRAD

I could be fine with the scooters under the following conditions: 1) Scooters cannot just be thrown down on the sidewalks. The scooter company should work with businesses to offer scooter racks to park the scooters. I think business might be open to it because if people know they are able to get and drop of scooters at their business it might bring more traffic which they would like. 2) Scooters must be driven in the bike lane or the road and follow the same rules that apply to cars. Technically they should be wearing helmets but that doesn’t affect… Read more »

Barton Gates
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Barton Gates

The singular issue that wasn’t addressed by the advocates who spoke during the discussion portion of the meeting was how are they doing to deal with the fact that the overwhelming majority of the user of the scooters refuse to wear helmets, and also the majority of the people who ride them do it on sidewalks where it is ILLEGAL. I’ve seen on Melrose while having lunch there one day over 20 people zip by the restaurant riding scooters on the sidewalk and none of them had helmets on. And there were a number of them being ridden by children… Read more »

Miles
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Miles

@barton, you must be 18 or older to ride birds, and must provide proof of a license, so I highly doubt you saw people under 18 riding these scooters.

Jo
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Jo

Others rented then for them

jimmy palmieri
Guest

miles i have absolutely seen people under 18 riding them…..absolutely.

Douglas Barton
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Douglas Barton

All of you with your opinions are fine HOWEVER, I am a soon to be 59 year old man who has lived in West Hollywood for 33 of the past 40 years and I love riding these scooters for short errands around town. When I first saw one on the street I thought no way, I could never keep my balance on that thing, then around two weeks ago I dared take my first ride on a BIRD! It was fabulous, energizing, exciting and FUN! I spent $15.00 on my first ride, and kept riding until it ran out of… Read more »

David
Guest
David

You would have likely died without a helmet and you’re complaining about people who should be required to wear helmets. Did the accident also muddle your ability to think clearly?

We ALL pay for riders who don’t wear helmets when they go to hospitals and emergency rooms and the fire department or police have to respond to an accident. That includes motorcyclists who straddle lanes, and drivers who text–and these idiots going 20 mph on scooters who think they are on skateboards.

Randy
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Randy

I’m not sure how you’d know so certainly that he would have “died w/o a helmet.” I’m not sure how I feel about the helmet issue, exactly, but it makes no sense to me that one can ride a bike, going well over 15 MPH, legally, without a helmet (unless under the age of 18), but cannot ride a scooter going 15 MPH. Bicycles are allowed on the sidewalk, except where legally prohibited in CA (determined by local laws). I’d personally rather be hit by a scooter than a bike (especially one of the heavy ones from the bike share… Read more »

Jerome Cleary
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Jerome Cleary

read this story from the LA Times regarding the injuries from the scooters:

http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-abcarian-bird-scourge-20180706-story.html

Randy
Guest
Randy

I read that story, and all I could take from it was “injuries from irresponsible riders,” not scooters themselves, or the system in place. I’d like to see the author do a similar story on bicycles. Should those be banned, also? We will see more injuries from these scooters, but not because they are more dangerous than bicycles. It is because of the volume of them on our streets right now. And that isn’t going to change anytime soon. Bird is valued at $2 billion dollars, and this ban does little to solve the public safety/nuisance problem. Working with law… Read more »

J SIMMONS
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J SIMMONS

I have to be honest, I was very anti-scooter, but recently noticed scooter use (all plain with no colors at all) and… 1. My dog didn’t seem to mind or notice (perhaps their silence, perhaps my dog is now really old) 2. It seemed like they weren’t so fast a needed a kick-push off to start. Had a feeling it was under more rider control & could stop quickly if necessary. (never rode a scooter so what do I know) BUT! I didn’t understand why people would abandon them … Wherever… No lock. Just kind of wherever on the sidewalk.… Read more »

Terry
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Terry

“Am I out of touch? No, it’s the children who are wrong.” -Principal Skinner

Chase
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Chase

This is disappointing, Don’t we get a say at all? Let the people vote for it instead of an outright ban.

craig
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craig

I trip over more homeless people than scooters.

Observer
Guest
Observer

Have you tried to help the homeless?

Rich
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Rich

Yeah, until late they started attacking me. The transient junkies blocking the sidewalks in weho are far more dangerous than scooters.

L
Guest
L

Easy solution: ticket people who are riding them without helmets and who illegally ride them on sidewalks.

Jack Chandelier
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Jack Chandelier

Totally. Just like they ticket all the cyclists that don’t wear helmets already, right?

From what I have been able to tell it seems like there are a total of about what, three cops in West Hollywood?

Shelley P Cox
Guest

I don’t mind the scooters but I wish there was a way to keep them out of the middle of the sidewalks when parked. My daughter uses a wheel chair and we can’t get around Santa Monica without having to move at least 7 a day. She can’t be independent because she is not ambulatory and can’t move them by herself. I wonder about accessibility issues in the city and laws related to the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is the responsibility of the company to make sure their product doesn’t cause obstacles in the public pathway.

Jack Chandelier
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Jack Chandelier

Then how do you get around all the homeless people passed out on the sidewalks? Honestly not kidding, I just stepped around one a minute ago while reading this article on my phone.

Observer
Guest
Observer

Have you tried to help the homeless?

Bobby
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Bobby

Yes, and they attacked me…

SunsetPerson
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SunsetPerson

Thank you, Shelly. This is an issue that I had not really thought about until I read your comment. I do hope this is seriously considered by the powers that be and that it does make things easier for you and your daughter. Thanks for bringing this to light. You have educated me, at least, on this important matter.

Susan
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Susan

I would love to know how many people that are all for these scooters walk regularly at least 2 miles a day and not just from their car to their front door? As an avid daily WeHo walker, I have been hit once and have been nearly hit and cursed at by multiple scooters that are being ridden on the sideWALK. So as long as they stay off the sideWALKS and stop at ALL stop signs (unlike 99% of bikers who fail to follow the law) I am okay with them. Then when they ride on SM Blvd., drivers are… Read more »

Horatio
Guest
Horatio

I walk 4-5 miles a day with my dog and sometimes accompanied by my girlfriend’s dog. Those walks includes daily strolls down Melrose Ave and Santa Monica Blvd. In my experience, there are more scooters used on Melrose than on Santa Monica.

As for your friend who hit a scooter, that is rather unfortunate, but the scooters aren’t so small you can’t see them in the road. It sounds like the driver should have been paying better to the road while driving.

I don’t use the scooters personally because I prefer to walk, but I still support their use.

Jack Chandelier
Guest
Jack Chandelier

I also walk about five miles a day down Fairfax, Melrose, Santa Monica, Sunset, Etc., And while I prefer the walk, I have used the scooters a couple times for fun or to go longer distances. I have had no problems riding in the street alongside traffic just like I do on my bicycle. I fully support alternate methods of transportation that reduce traffic. But of course proper etiquette should be enforced in regards to people parking them correctly out of the way, and riding them safely. When they are in places like the middle of the street it’s unlikely… Read more »

Josh Kurpies
Guest
Josh Kurpies

I live near Fairfax and Santa Monica Blvd and commute via public transportation to and from my office in Santa Monica in addition to using public transportation throughout the day for various meetings in BH, Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles. I don’t know how many miles a day I walk but it’s easily well over 2 miles a day and as I stated at the Council Meeting, I am able able to document trips I have taken on a scooter that replaced a trip I would have normally used and Uber or Lyft for, and I have used the scooter… Read more »

Squeegie
Guest
Squeegie

So why not buy yourself a scooter and get a helmet?

Randy
Guest
Randy

Because it changes the convenience factor, and possibly he cannot afford one? This method of transportation doesn’t require that you lock it up, store it, or even charge it. If taking public transportation, you have to bring the scooter w/you on the bus or train, and that isn’t always easy (I used to try this with a bike, all the time). It also might be a pain to bring into work, if you work in a building with an elevator, etc.. Or what if you only need it one-way, and then have to carry it around w/you for the rest… Read more »