Opinion: The City of West Hollywood Must Do More to Ensure Sidewalk Safety

 

Even though the scooters have been banned in West Hollywood, it doesn’t mean a thing if there is no enforcement. The scooters are still weaving through pedestrians on the sidewalks.

The city has painted circles on the sidewalks warning that scooters, bikes and skateboards are not allowed on sidewalks. While this is not the most irresponsible thing the city has done in response to a public safety issue, it is up there on the list.

People who ride scooters, bikes and skateboards do not look down, they look straight ahead.

The warning signs should be on poles at eye level in a bright color and warn of a fine for scooters, skateboards and bikes. I think a $250 fine is reasonable.

If a person is struck head-on by a scooter, bike or skateboarder and falls backward, hitting the back of his or her head on the pavement, that person has a very good chance of being killed instantly or slowly bleeding to death or dying in the hospital from intra-cranial pressure.

An emergency department nurse at UCLA Medical Center in Westwood told me recently that two out of three injuries that go to the trauma center lately involve scooters.

Scooters, bikes and skateboards on sidewalks are not only a nuisance but are effectively deadly weapons. We don’t allow people to walk the sidewalks with loaded guns, yet we allow the same potentially dangerous conditions with scooters, bikes and skateboards on the sidewalks.

I suppose it will take a death of one of our beloved citizens before the city effectively enforces sidewalk safety. No one should be injured or die because the city doesn’t enforce its’ own laws.

I suggest that signs, as I described, be placed on every sidewalk where this typically occurs. I also believe that the city should hire sidewalk enforcement personnel to patrol (on foot) the major sidewalks and write tickets, much like parking meter enforcement. Plus, I believe more cameras should be installed so that when something does occur it will be recorded. That goes for every crosswalk too.

In addition to those measures, the city should be picking up scooters, impounding them and charging the scooter companies a fine to get them back.

There is no reason that the citizens of West Hollywood should not have safe sidewalks. The city council and the public safety commission have the ability to save lives and prevent injuries if they choose to. This is their chance to be proactive before someone gets hurt.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  This is one of a series of op-eds that candidates in the March 5, 2019, West Hollywood City Council race are invited to submit until election day.


52 Comments
  1. A few times a week I do a round trip, 4 mile transverse of WeHo on foot. I start East of Fairfax and go to a gym on Sunset – mostly walking East-West on Santa Monica.

    *disclaimer – I’ve never rode an e-scooter and have little intention of doing so*

    I see a handful of e-scooters, and bikes, on the sidewalk each time. I have nearly been hit stepping out from a storefront into the path of a scooter and would have been injured and very annoyed had this occurred.

    However, I run a gauntlet of illegal car/truck/pickup/SUV driver behavior every single time I walk my gym commute. Almost every intersection has a car driver encroaching into the crosswalk, attempting to make unsafe left/right turns, and at signaled intersections running red lights. It isn’t a couple of bad apples – it’s every other driver.

    You all can decry the scourge of e-scooters but the very real, deadly threat to pedestrians is, and will continue to be, car/truck/pickup/SUV drivers. I’d take someone much more seriously as a candidate if they focused on a proven, epidemic level health risk, than jump on a quick and cheap bandwagon like moaning about something that is pretty innocuous in the grand scheme of things.

    I remain unimpressed, and given the quality of your post and replies, significantly underwhelmed that you’re a serious political candidate, Eric.

  2. Whenever I have asked Council members if they read Wehoville.com, invariably the answer is ” sometimes”. The next time I ask the answer should be “every day!’ – for this is where “public comment” resonates more loudly than at Council meetings..

    1. Only one of our City Council members subscribes to our daily news updates. And none of the challenger candidates for City Council does. Says a lot doesn’t it 😉

    2. It would help if the coverage included a higher level of seriousity and if fresh articles could be read when most folks read the NYT, Washington Post,CJR, WSJ and Huff Post, if one must, early in the morning. It’s unclear what the publishing time schedule might be. The articles from James Mills following meetings appear prompt so one can respond while the subject matter is still in mind. Less eyeball and salacious nonsense and more timely substance.

      Thanking Wehoville in advance.

  3. These e-scooter riders are demanding that pedestrians give them the right of way. Or the just laugh at me when they manuever around me because of impatience

    I have encountered almost collided with these unapologetic riders if electric scooters and skate boards who roam and then dominate the sidewalk not to even say excuse me or give you eye contact or glance of apology but intimidate you into moving out of their way!

    The optimal word is SIDEWALK! You walk or use legs not a 20-30 mile an hour electric scooter and yes this bow includes motorized bikes. These are mini motorized vehicles because they have a motor and should be registered as such!

    Why should pedestrians have to jump or get pushed aside into the street so we become roadkill?

    Decades before these modes of transportation,though annoying, occurred on the sidewalks didn’t make it controlled by motors and I don’t accept one excuse that they are harmless and the wave of the future just that they are prone getting and giving injury to people just trying to walk In peace on the sidewalk and be have to be ambushed or mowed down in every direction is Absurd and dangerous! Let me walk without a scooter up my butt every single minute!

    Start enforcing and fining these inconsiderate people! They evidentially disregard the signs and sidewalk spray icons that specify illegal to ride!

    1. If you are going to make an argument, you might want to know that these rented scooters have a speed cap of 15 MPH. Further, it is legal for people to ride a bicycle on almost every sidewalk in West Hollywood. Only illegal in places where there is a bike lane, a city ordinance, and an accompanying sign. I don’t advocate people riding scooters on the sidewalk, but if given the choice, I’d much rather be hit by one of those than a bicycle. So our laws need to be looked at.

      1. Motorized is the key word. The city passed an ordinance regardless if they are rented or 15 miles and hour.

        Signs Spray painted on the sidewalks say these are illegal and not permitted on sidewalks.

        The law states so and the ordinance dictates that people riding the scooters are blatantly disregarding the law by ignoring these signs!

        Either not up on our laws in the city or completely oblivious and ignorant or disregard the laws in general.
        People need to stop do that in my opinion.

        So your point is that laws should be looked at.

        The city council passed and did review this and the city staff presented and all was looked at to make this illegal. Case and point, that’s why there are signs saying no e-scooters.

  4. You want people riding skateboards on the street? Insanity! I grew up riding bikes without bike lanes in traffic (and there WAS traffic), riding skateboards on the sidewalks without people getting all paranoid about getting hit by one and people had scooters (not electric) they rode on the sidewalks. It is the generation that grew up with parents that protected them from EVERYTHING yelling and screaming these days about these things. Learn to get your faces out of your phones and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Take your earbuds out of your ears and listen to your surroundings. Take responsibility for your own safety. It is not always the other guy’s fault.

  5. If a person is struck head-on by a car, pickup or truck and falls backward, hitting the back of his or her head on the pavement, that person has a very good chance of being killed instantly or slowly bleeding to death or dying in the hospital from intra-cranial pressure.

    *fixed that for you

  6. Reading this it has become clear to me that wheels on the sidewalk are not the real issue here. Let’s be honest, we’re all adults here. EVERYONE knows not to ride/scoot on the sidewalks, you don’t need signs in our faces. Signs will not make any difference. Why is everyone opting to ride on the sidewalk risking a fine? Because it’s not safe to ride bikes or scooters in the street. Instead of putting face-high signs threatening a big fine we should creating a riding environment that they feel safe to ride on. I certainly do not claim to know all of the answers but when I am downtown I see the new painted bike lanes where they have pushed the bus stops forward and have created a protected bike/scooter path protected between the bus stops and the sidewalk. It is just for them, it’s painted green and they even have bicycle traffic lights. You can’t fight the future (ask the record industry). You need to watch the future and adapt to it’s needs.

  7. Here’s a simple solution that would fix this problem throughout the city while maximizing the safety of all involved: Let’s set speed limits for bicycles, e-scooters, and even pedestrians. Here’s a great example:
    1: The street speed limit whenever operated in bike lanes or on streets.
    2: ~10mph on sidewalks when no Pedestrians are in the area (ie: the often empty sidewalk north of the bus station & Sherif’s department).
    3: 5mph on sidewalks with limited traffic
    4: ‘walking speed’ on more crowded sidewalks.

    We can then work with these companies to phase in technologies to detect scenarios, provide excessive speed warnings, and even provide documentation of violations. Consumer-owned devices already support speed limits and notifications. This type of technology is also becoming more and more popular for the mobility impaired.

    This kind of law will benefit everyone. It will provide a level playing field for existing and emerging urban mobility technologies, while protecting our pedestrians.

    1. No, Absolutely not. Off the sidewalks completely, and out in traffic where they belong… Licensed, and insured like the rest of us.

  8. Why doesn’t the city install more bike lanes? Bikes and scooters can go in the lanes. Then the bikes aren’t in the way of drivers in the roads and the scooters aren’t in the way of pedestrians.

    1. This.

      Really lovely when I get to Kings Rd. Eastbound on my bike, when the bike lane ends, and I suddenly feel like a fool as I find myself suddenly competing with tons of moving steel lol.

    2. More bike Lanes? The ones we have aren’t even used. Maybe we should walk in the bike lanes to avoid getting run over by bikes and scooters on the sidewalks!

  9. It’s absurd that the surrounding cities allow scooters but supposedly progressive weho doesn’t. I agree that people shouldn’t ride them on the sidewalks, but on the streets, they are less dangerous than bikes an far easier to rent.

    1. I think scooters should be allowed to ride in the street in the bike lane, requiring a helmet. following the same laws as a motor vehicle and a loud beeper to warn bike riders they are approaching them. A total ban without further discussing and other options was not a good idea. I am not against scooters, I am for pedestrian safety. Pedestrians are the most vulnerable mobile people in public

          1. I’m down for that. Increasing, and creating new carrying capacity for transient cars has been counterproductive, and detrimental for the health and well-being of weho residents. Lets try another approach – put the whole city on a road diet.

  10. We could take a lane each way on SM and Sunset and dedicate to buses, bikes, and scooters. Cars would only get one lane, but it will fix this scooter issue. And make it less appealing for all the drive through traffic.

  11. I see scooters all the time riding over the the painted circles on the sidewalk at 20 mph. Although these brazen and self-centered imbeciles that ride on the sidewalk may not cause pedestrian injuries that are fatalities, they do diminished the pedestrian’s confidence in their environment, and that is enough reason to begin serious enforcement of our laws.

    The city must find the will to impound illegally dumped scooters, enforce no riding on sidewalks and require the scooter companies to disable the ability to rent a scooter within West Hollywood.

    Block by Block, Sheriff volunteers and Public Works should be at the front line of enforcement and compliance. Because of our ban, the scooter problem here is manageable enough that by just doing those three things, enforcement, impoundment and app disabling, we can put a complete end this behavior and keep the chaos of our streets off our sidewalks.

    1. These devices are incapable of traveling at 20mph. They’re limited to at most 15.5mph, or less If the sharing company chooses. Also, reaching those top speeds is not likely given the setup of our roads. I still think 15.5mph is too fast for sidewalk use in the presence of pedestrians, but keep in mind that bicycles can easily hit 20 or 30 MPH and are legally permitted on the sidewalks.

      Also, the use of the scooters themselves in WeHo is not illegal. They just cannot be left in the public right of way.

      1. *Lime speeds are up to 20 mph
        *Bicycles are not motorized.
        *Scooters are motorized vehicles
        *Bicycles only allowed on sidewalks when there is no bike lane.
        (*That special dispensation is a mistake)
        *Bicycles must always yield to pedestrians.

  12. What can you expect from the WEHO City Council that does nothing about this? Five people that are only concerned about getting real elected and getting as much money as they can from developers.

    We have the Los Angeles County Sheriff. The most incompetent and scandal plagued enforcement agency you can find. They don’t do anything. They’re never in sight.

    Because West Hollywood is run by five corrupt elected officials and a City Manager who is paid more than the President of the United States and what do we have for it?

    Stormy Daniels Day!

  13. “Scooters, bikes and skateboards on sidewalks are not only a nuisance but are effectively deadly weapons. We don’t allow people to walk the sidewalks with loaded guns, yet we allow the same potentially dangerous conditions with scooters, bikes and skateboards on the sidewalks.”

    … I don’t advocate breaking the law, but is that *really* a comparison? I’m sorry, but loaded weapons and scooters, bikes and skateboards don’t even compare, especially when you look at the statistics. And, once again, I don’t advocate breaking the law. But bicycles are allowed on the sidewalk, in most places in CA.

    Also, there are laws that allow loaded weapons to be carried on the sidewalk (and other places), even if I don’t like it:

    https://www.shouselaw.com/concealed-weapon.html

    If you want bicycles off our sidewalks, get them to be unlawful on all City of West Hollywood sidewalks. Because they are most certainly not. Only where expressly labeled as such, and local law has been passed (mostly where there are bike lanes). Our own City has placed bicycle share program hubs, mostly along major thoroughfares, where there are many times (more than 50%?) no bike lanes.

    I don’t have time to look up statistics, but I’ll bet you’ll find more people who die from gun violence than people using these devices on sidewalks.

    1. I said they were a potential deadly situation, I did not compare them to guns. However, as soon as the first person is killed by being struck by one, people will agree. It always takes a death to get people’s attention. I believe we should act before one person dies

      1. heh? You didn’t compare them to guns?

        You called them “effectively deadly weapons” when on our sidewalks.
        You say they have the “same potential danger” as a loaded gun.

        I’m new to WeHo and was looking forward to the civic/community engagement a smaller city allows. Wehoville with its parking spot shaming and Skateboards are a deadly weapon articles is a disappointment. My expectations were for a periodical that had some journalistic quality or objectiveness to it…perhaps it was my mistake.

        1. The point of my article was sidewalk safety. Public safety comes in many forms, which includes people on sidewalks.

          Public safety should be one of the top priorities of the City.

          I am not against scooters, bikes or skateboards. I just don’t think that they should be on sidewalks. Sidewalks are for walking. The City has the money and should dedicate a safe lane in the street for scooters, skateboards and bikes. with a curb separating them from traffic. These three modes of transportation should be required to observe the same laws as drivers.

          I do think that any scooter left unattended should be impounded by the city. People should pick up and leave the scooters outside city limits. They pose a potential hazard when blocking sidewalks and quite frankly, they are unattractive.

          What other industry lets you used their product and then leave it on public or private property? It’s a form of littering and could possibly fall under that ordinance allowing the City to pick them up as litter.

          I did say that being struck by a scooter, bike or skateboard could be fatal. My comparison to guns is simply that both pose a POTENTIAL dangerous situation which could end in a death.

          I am not discounting the deaths from guns nor comparing scooter to guns. I think my point was misinterpreted.

          The contrast is that people who ride on the sidewalks do not have the intention of hurting anyone, however the potential of that happening is enough that the City should have better ways to avoid injuries or deaths.

          I also believe that the City should have cameras at every crosswalk, but not allow Law Enforcement to be the only with access to them. There have been too many crosswalk deaths when the driver was not charged with a crime. With a video, the City could independently verify what transpired and compare it to the Sheriff’s report. This information could help develop a safer crosswalk situation.

          Please understand, in my article, I am not against anything mentioned. But, I am for public safety and in this case, the sidewalks.

          I don’t see The City doing much about it though. Mayor Duran in an interview with WEHOville, at the Trump baby event said that he rides scooters and he said “I didn’t wear a helmet, It’s the only cool way to ride one”. I would love to accompany him to an ICU unit to visit a person who didn’t wear a helmet and hear him tell that person that it is cool to ride a scooter without a helmet.

          1. The Governor has rescinded the requirement that helmets must be worn while riding scooters. It is not illegal to ride a scooter while not wearing a helmet.

  14. I agree 100 per cent….although I would take it a step further. West Hollywood should aggressively ticket every scooter user who is breaking the law….riding on sidewalks, riding against traffic, riding with no helmet, riding with more than one person on the scooter. Every day I see at least a few people riding these things and breaking the law. After a few months of aggressively ticketing law breakers at $250 a pop, I bet the laws would be more closely followed. These scooters are a dangerous nuisance; no change will happen without consequences.

    1. Jerry Brown just signed a state law that no longer requires helmets on scooters, effective Jan 1, 2019. So you can take that off your list, real soon.

      1. I don’t care about helmets, that’s a choice. Being an innocent victim of a reckless person on a scooter, skateboard or bike is not a choice. Anything on wheels, other than wheelchairs should be on the street, not the sidewalk

        1. I do care about the safety of people on scooters, skateboards and bikes too, but I don’t believe the City should impose a helmet law. If we start telling people how to make personal choices, where does it end? It’s slippery slope. As long as no one else is at risk of injury, the choice to wear a helmet should be their own. But riding on sidewalks should not be their decision because it does affect the safety of others. I strongly encourage people to wear helmets and I wish they would. I don’t want to see anyone getting hurt or die. Plus, accidents without helmets puts a strain on our fire and rescue and Emergency rooms. But, we must not start to impose laws on people unless their action affects others.

  15. I am more worried about the homeless that take the scooters and throw them at cars to make room for their tent, than I am about people riding them on sidewalks.

    The people that are in the trama centers are the ones that are riding in the street, btw.

      1. Actually, I yawned and accidentally knocked a guy guy on a scooter in the face. He fell over, not me.

        Mostly I see them on the streets.

  16. You’re absolutely right! I’m sure there are plenty of anecdotes that many readers can share about the dangers on our sidewalks, but few are as potentially catastrophic as the spread of the scooters. That person who dies is going to be an elderly person who walks out of a storefront and is broadsided by a person on a scooter riding at a fairly fast clip, illegally on the sidewalk. Foot patrols are a must in a city like West Hollywood.

    I know it’s a lot to ask, but since we’re on the subject of sidewalks, can we get them cleaned, too? Local business are failing to do their daily part on this task and should be called out, like the public shaming of moronic parkers. Shame No. 1, Brentview Medical at the corner of Harper and SMB–filthy sidewalks–am I too feel comfortable going there for urgent health issues?

  17. No one in West Hollywood or even the region has died using scooters or getting hit by a scooter. To say they are “effective deadly weapons” is wildly absurd and to equate them to handguns during a time of extraordinary gun violence and mass shootings in the region is offensive and tone-deaf. Educate pedestrians and travelers on how to share the road or walkways where that is the only safe alternative so we can finally get a solution for constant gridlock and fossil fuel pollution and certainly end the misleading hysterics.

    1. Not yet in West Hollywood.Why wait until it happens? I sure wouldn’t want a loved one of mine to be the first one.

      There have Been thousands of injuries requiring hospitalization in California. Those are important too.

    2. You need to look all over the country and you will find that people are being struck by them. Our city is smaller so there may be less reported injuries (I’d imagine some people are even embarrassed to report the incidents.) A few weeks ago it was a woman very seriously injured leaving a store in NYC. It was all over social media. I posted in the past about the student who died when his scooter broke apart and he crashed into traffic. He had no helmet. And your super idiotic governor just said it’s okay to ride them without a helmet. Insanity. Do your jobs and ticket the heck out of anyone who rides these things in the city of West Hollywood.

  18. The scooters have internal GPS to track and bill users. The City should make the scooter companies program these scooters to slow to a stop when they cross the city boundaries.

    1. Features like the one you suggested are in development. Namely, warnings when entering areas with restrictions, adherence to local speed limits, sidewalk detection, etc. Several companies are even working on systems to verify safe parking & report offending users.

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