City Council Will Be Asked to Reconsider a Test of Electric Scooters in West Hollywood

The COVID-19 pandemic and changes in the business strategies of electric scooter companies have stalled an effort by the City of West Hollywood to launch a program that would test the use of dockless electric bicycles on city streets.  The City Council tonight will be asked to rethink that program to permit electric scooters.

Last year the City Council responded to the failure of the WeHo Pedals shared bike program by authorizing City Hall to solicit proposals from companies that operated dockless electric bike programs. Under the WeHo Pedals program riders paid a city contractor to use bikes that were docked at specific locations on the sidewalks. Under the dockless electric bike program riders would pick up and drop off bicycles at bike racks on public sidewalks or at specific locations approved by the city.

The City Council had hoped that one company that offered dockless electric “pedal assist” bikes would qualify for an 18-month pilot program. Electric pedal assist bikes are those equipped with a motor that helps the wheels turn until the rider reaches a speed of 20 miles an hour. The city got no response to its call in May for applications from bike operators, some of which objected that the fee the city proposed to charge was too high. In June, the City Council asked City Hall staff to try again, this time with a reduced fee schedule.

In a memo to the City Council included with tonight’s Council agenda, the city’s Planning & Development Services and Public Works department said they received applications from Jump, Bird, Lime, and Wheels. But only two of the applicants — Jump and Bird — actually proposed offering electric pedal assist bikes. Lime wanted to offer electric scooters, which the city has banned. Wheels wanted to offer throttle assist bikes. A throttle assist bike operates like a motorcycle in that a rider can twist a device on the handlebar to get power from the electric motor without doing any pedaling at all.

As City Hall staffers came close to making a choice, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the bike share and scooter industry hard. “Jump informed the city they would not be able to come to market in West Hollywood until Fall 2020. Bird informed the city that their bicycles were being delayed due to disruption to the supply chain in China,” the memo to the Council stated. Then Jump rescinded its proposal after it was acquired by Lime and stopped offering electric pedal assist bikes in the L.A. market. Bird changed its product line and offered only electric scooters. Lime said it would make the same offer.

“As such, there are now no options for a pedal assist bike for the pilot program,” the staff memo says. “As a result, new options for mobility devices need to be considered. In addition to looking at e-scooters and throttle assist bicycles, the city may want to consider allowing multiple companies to provide dockless mobility devices during the pilot to provide options for type of device.”

Scooters on the sidewalk on Santa Monica Boulevard Photo by Manny Rodriguez)

In the memo, City Hall recommends the City Council authorize a pilot program that would include electric scooters and low-speed throttle assist bicycles from up to three vendors.

“There is a different physical demand for scooters than bikes, appealing to a different type of rider,” the memo states. “However, scooters are not accessible to all riders, as they can be difficult to maneuver for some users. Scooters can have their speed regulated to avoid fast moving use but are not permitted to be on the sidewalk in West Hollywood.”

Throttle assist bikes are legal on any paved surface that a regular bike is allowed to operate. “Throttle assist bikes, like those proposed by Wheels, are easy to use and have a low center of gravity. These bikes include non-operable pedals, so there is also no physical exertion necessary to ride these vehicles. Like scooters, throttle assist electric bikes can be governed to avoid high speeds.”

The memo to the Council proposed a $30,000 fee for each operator in addition to a $130 fee for each vehicle for being stationed on a portion of the city sidewalk to station the vehicles and a fee of $80 per vehicle in the form of a performance bond that guarantees the contractor will comply with the contract and rules and regulations. The proposal already has been endorsed by the city’s Transportation Commission.

The memo notes that use of scooters and electric bikes “reduces greenhouse gas emissions that otherwise results from vehicle travel, helping the city achieve our Climate Action Plan Goals.”  The biggest source of pollution in Los Angeles is from car emissions.  This year, for the 22nd year in a row, the Greater Los Angeles area is ranked by the American Lung Association as having the worst air quality in the nation. West Hollywood has installed several new electric charging stations in an effort to encourage drivers to use electric vehicles but has been reluctant to implement measures used in other cities that restrict traffic flow or reduce the availability of parking.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City Council’s meeting can only be attended virtually. The city advises that residents “may view the City Council meetings from your computer, tablet or smartphone. City Council meetings are broadcast live on WeHoTV on Spectrum Ch. 10 in West Hollywood and AT&T U-verse Ch. 99 in Southern California, and are streamed live on the City’s website on YouTube WeHoTV programming is also available on multiple streaming platforms, including Android TV, Apple TV, Fire TV, and Roku. Digital streaming platform viewers can easily find programming by searching for ‘WeHoTV’ within the search functions of these services.”

Anyone wanting to comment on an item on the Council’s agenda, which can be downloaded by clicking here, is asked to submit the comment by 4 p.m. on Monday using a form found online Those comments will be forwarded to Council members. Those who wish to call in an comment during the meeting are asked to email City Clerk Yvonne Quarker at no later than 4 p.m. on Monday to be added to the speaker list. Include your name, telephone numbers and the item you want to speak on. Then, 10 minutes before the start of the meeting, which begins at 5:30 p.m., dial (669) 900-6833 and enter meeting I.D. number 924 5862 2275# to be put on hold until the relevant agenda item comes up for discussion.

  1. Electric Scooter are really great, from some of the comments above a lot of people don’t really like them by the sidewalk, Electric scooters are very slow and they don’t cause much accidents. i know some can be a bit noisy, even i support they ban such types. The popularity of electric scooters is increasing and i believe there would be amendments that would fit everyone.

  2. If they are allowed then they need to be registered just like a motorcycle and car. Also, riders must wear helmets. And, if anyone is caught riding one on a sidewalk then they get ticketed BIG time.

    1. I think you may have confused scooters for SUVs.
      Last I checked SUVs were strongly linked with the increase in pedestrian deaths and greatly contribute to climate destruction.

  3. Ok, here is my issue with electric bikes & scooters & I hope @Karen O’Keefe (and anyone else!) can weigh in with some solutions.
    The devices, I get it–clean, low energy use, might lower traffic volume. Heck, when I used to commute to downtown via bus & subway, I might have used them for first mile/last mile. But my issue is the customers, the users. I don’t want to ever see any kind of motorized transportation on a sidewalk. Ever. I have mobility issues–Karen has seen me gimping to meetings–and I can’t “get out of the way” on a sidewalk quickly. So, never do I want to see motorized scooter, bikes or flywheels on sidewalks. And the number of riders I see going the wrong way on streets, going through red lights and weaving in and out of lanes, blocking all cars behind them…Karen, how do enforce safe & proper usage? The sheriff’s do not have time & staffing. Would you empower parking enforcement? Code compliance? And if they are reintroduced before there is a vaccine for Covid, how do you ensure they do not become a point for transmission? They would need to be wiped off before every use–do we hire a concierge service? So those are my issues…and I hope someone has some solutions before West Hollywood decides to reintroduce them into our city.

    1. Hi Rob!

      Unfortunately, I doubt we’ll ever have 100% compliance with any law. Even with the absolute ban on scooters and other shared mobility in WeHo, we’ve seen them on sidewalks and streets.

      But here are some ideas, esp. re: sidewalk riding:

      1 — The most important is installing protected bike/scooter lanes. This won’t happen immediately (and sadly, maybe never). But it should be acknowledged that a top reason for sidewalk riding is that scooter and bike riders fear death — and many have been hit by cars, been doored, etc even in bike lanes that aren’t protected. If we want device-free sidewalks, we need a place for those devices to safely be.

      2 — Every scooter/Wheels user has an account. As a condition of the licensing in WeHo, scooter/Wheels companies could be required to de-activate the account of anyone endangering pedestrians or blocking disabled access. Code enforcement & the LASD could be required to have a direct line to staff at the company, who would have to de-activate the account. (I would suggest this be reserved for when they’re actually a danger to others, or a repeat offender. Users may not be aware of where one city ends and another begin, what the laws are, etc. And, if they are not actually being at all dangerous to others, and are instead yielding and carefully passing, the nuclear option should not be exercised IMO.)

      3 — Any scooter/Wheels company licensed could be required to notify all users who originate or ride in WeHo of the prohibition on sidewalk riding, and blocking sidewalks, and that their permission may be revoked if they do so.

      4 — Code enforcement could be able to issue tickets (ideally with a warning first, esp. for cases that don’t actually endanger anyone, per the above). They could focus on spots/times with the most complaints.

      Everyone who rides them should bring hand sanitizer or wear gloves during COVID. This is an issue for buses, Lyft, etc, too.

      1. Karen, West Hollywood has been significantly unable to enforce its leaf lower ban. That requires simple follow ups on reports by nearby residents to the Code Enforcement Department and presumably follow ups on the citations and penalties. After providing exquisitely exacting details to Code Compliance as to times and dates of regular leaf blowing escapades, somehow the leaf blowing varmints return regularly to the scene of the crime unfazed for years and years.

        For all the legislation enacted regarding leaf blowers to illegal Airbnb’s and the recent financial dynamics of the AKA Sunset infractions, it’s hard to imagine how proposed regulations on scooters and bicycles could be possible.

        Better to put time and energy into a Scooter-Utopian Village developed from scratch somewhere out in the hinterlands that will also accommodate bicycles and electric cars. Add affordable cubicle housing and build a wall around it to keep out all the undesirable aspects and voila…..Shangri-la.

    2. Also, I am not particularly concerned about “blocking all cars behind them.” Cars can pass in another lane if it’s a two-lane street. (Just as they do when cars parallel park or turn right.) If it’s one-lane, maybe they should use an arterial or be patient. Scooters can go up to 20 mph, I believe. On residential streets, cars really shouldn’t be going faster than that anyway. I don’t want scooters encouraged to go in the door zone, where so many are killed.

      Remember, it’s harm reduction/ way better for our planet and the air we breathe. They all represent one less car trip.

      Those who are reckless or endanger others could be penalized, same as they would if they were drivers. And their ability to use the service could be revoked (which is actually far more absolute than what happens with drivers who break the rules with two-ton vehicles).

      1. what I was referring to is when I am driving a north/south street in residential areas, Orlando south of Melrose (which is in WH) scooters have driven weaving across both lanes in an “S” pattern, blocking cars in both directions. I know that bicycles have the right to a full lane, generally the one closest to the sidewalk–and when I used to ride on narrow streets where I felt particularly vulnerable, I did ride in that full lane, then would allow cars to pass when I came to an intersection–but this behavior has happened far to many times. I know you can’t regulate all riders behavior, but if enough spoil the soup….

  4. You REALLY want these things in WeHo? OK, as much as I am against them, let’s try to compromise. If allowed, the City needs to enforce the laws regarding scooters; no sidewalk riding, no double person riding, no minors riding, and although it is not a state law we should pass a city ordinance requiring helmets. Aggressively ticket riders who do not follow the law, confiscate scooters left randomly on sidewalks, and make the suppliers set aside a fund for rider education and injuries. Even if the city were to enforce, I am still against the scooters but I am willing to have a discussion. So far I have not seen any argument that changes my position.

  5. In answer to the theory that these scooters are good for the environment:

    They really have NO GOOD USE in West Hollywood. There are plenty of public transportation options in West Hollywood including Metro, CityLine, Sunset Trip, WeHo PickUp, Dial-A-Ride, On Call Transportation, and Bus Pass Subsidy, Taxi Subsidy, and of course UBER and LYFT. None of those work for you? Buy a scooter, pedal assist bike, regular bike, roller blades, hover board, etc.


    1. Gimme a break, what do you think is worse, a 2-ton car or a 10-pound scooter? You think the manufacture of buses, Ubers, Lyft’s, etc are totally green?

      They’re harm reduction, and they’re an efficient, affordable transportation option. Buses don’t come very frequently and don’t go to as many destinations.

    2. BTW — micro-plastics from the tires of all those multi-ton vehicles you mentioned are a huge contributor to ocean pollution. And particulate matter from all of their brakes, tires, and exhaust are huge contributors to air pollution that kills 100,000 Americans/ year.

      Surely you realize that scooter trips are greener than car-trips? You cannot be that naive/ misinformed.

      Our car addiction is killing us.

  6. I have commented on this issue in the past. I’m a senior who loves to walk about. At least did before the pandemic. More often than not person’s using these come up behind me on the sidewalk and wiz by. While I’m not against the use of these PLEASE stay off the sidewalk.

    1. Are you also supportive of protected bike lanes? People ride on the sidewalk because they feel unsafe riding next to multi-ton vehicles or aggressive drivers. I empathize with you yet the issue is a lack of safe biking and scooting infrastructure. Put in protected bike lanes and you’ll see a lot less people scooting and biking in the sidewalk.

  7. Does anyone really want these things or are we just being told that we SHOULD want them? Is this one reason we are being asked to approve a sales tax increase?

    1. Yeah, lots of people want them. Lots of people have tried to use them in WeHo and not been able to due to our prohibition. Many complained to city council when they were banned.

      Also, these would cost the city nothing. They would be privately operated, by operators paying fees.

      1. How much will they pay the city to essentially set up businesses on sidewalks everywhere? If the sidewalks are free for the taking, I’m starting a business.

      2. I’m certain you aren’t part of the majority thinking. People leave the scooters in the middle of sidewalks that block them to disabled people and generally get in the way. If you want to electric scooter around town, buy one. They are $400…

        1. I want them available as a transportation option so our air is more breathable, our GHG emissions less, and so individuals have a less harmful option than a car. It’s not about me personally wanting one. I mostly walk and bike.

          Lots of workers don’t have cars, and $400 is out of reach for many. Especially in the pandemic. Millions of people are worried about not even making rent.

          If one buys their own scooter, it’s also vulnerable to theft and doesn’t allow easy multi-modal transportation (such as taking a bus to point A, a scooter to point B from there, and a bus back home).

          Pre-pandemic, I walked all the time. Cars (parked on driveways) blocked sidewalks WAY more often than scooters. And way more completely since they’re enormous. And I could move scooters (so they wouldn’t be in the way of the disabled), but not cars. Drivers also almost never yield as they approach crosswalks here, in my experience. They are exponentially more dangerous to pedestrians and bicyclists.

          I suspect you’re wrong about the majority — especially if you count the many people that make our city function but may not live here: workers and visitors who need affordable transportation.

      3. The cost is enormous; Socially they block the sidewalks preventing seniors and disabled from navigating. Waling on a sidewalk is like running an obstacle course with these things ridden on the sidewalk, which happens ALL THE TIME. Monetarily, what is the cost of accidents caused by these things? I would love to see a study regarding that but I suspect it’s high.

  8. PLEASE don’t allow these scooters in West Hollywood. They are such a nuisance and extremely dangerous. They clog the sidewalks and create hazards for disabled and senior residents. Efforts to curb their use on sidewalks have failed miserably. If anything, they should be outright outlawed in the city.

  9. City Hall needs to conform to what the residents want, no more bike or scooter programs, they just litter the sidewalks and prevent disabled and elderly residents from using the sidewalks for pedestrians.

  10. If our city cares about reducing GHG emissions and air pollution — which kills 100k/ year in the US alone — it needs to actually show a commitment to alternatives to cars. This needs to include shared micro-mobility options. 

    Any annoyance and risk of scooters pales compared to the damage done and the space taken up by cars. The more people who take micro mobility instead of motor vehicles, the better for our safety, our air, and our planet. And yes even for the annoyance of blocked sidewalks. I constantly encounter cars parked entirely obstructing the sidewalk, and I can’t just pick them up and move them. Cars that I constantly see parking in a way that blocks sidewalks completely obstruct the disabled. 

    Automobiles/motorists kill over 30k Americans per year in crashes and land 2 million in hospitals. Scooters and Wheels aren’t perfect and they have some impact, too, but they pale compared to the devastation done by cars — including electric cars. 

    We need to live up to our ideals, and legalizing scooters and Wheels is part of that. Having legal cars but illegal “harm reduction” makes no sense.

    1. In the case of cars parked on sidewalks I would presume you are referencing those blocking the sidewalk but are in front of garages. To my knowledge this is a legal accommodation due to inadequate parking.

      Additionally, I would ask why you prefer riding on the sidewalk and not on the street? Yes, the comment about disabled folks is valid however the location of these cars is generally consistent in various neighborhoods and likewise would it be too difficult to use the opposite sidewalk if known?

      Bikes are one thing but, these addictive scooters and their largely irresponsible jockeys are not reasonable. Their main focus was as a revenue stream rather than a viable transportation alternative.

      1. I am talking about cars that are parked in driveways in a way that blocks the the sidewalk entirely, which I encounter all the time (pre-COVID, I rarely go out now), and which is illegal but is done anyway. Far more than I encountered much-smaller scooters partially blocking the driveway.

        I bike sometimes, and I walk even more. I am talking about seeing cars blocking sidewalks when I am walking. Though, of course, I also see them when I’m biking.

        Governments, including WeHo give up vast amounts of public space to free and/or deeply discounted storage of enormous machines that kill tens of thousands of Americans each year, and are destroying the planet. Meanwhile, we lack enough public space for alternatives to cars. And our city prohibits them. We are creating perverse incentives that are destroying the livability of the planet we live on.

        Some people will behave like jerks whether they use a scooter or a car. Being a jerk with a 2-ton vehicle is far more dangerous. It also obstructs the sidewalk far more — and in my experience far more often.

        Our city needs to legalize the less harmful alternatives to cars: shared scooters.

        1. Unfortunately Karen, your argument(s) seem to be all over the road. Cars parked in driveways legally, do block the sidewalk and extend over the driveway apron. That is a fact.

          I thought you were a bike advocate but now it appears you may be a scooter advocate or more. Riding a bike requires some skill and judgement, scooters do not. They are moving. entertainment for idiots. Cars, bikes or walking seem to be adequate. People on their own, appear to be using cars less and less but I have no statistics and who knows what they may be after this virus settles down.

          1. I am not talking about cars that park in the “apron.” I see cars that are parked across the actual sidewalk ALL THE TIME. (Pre-pandemic, I’m rarely out now.) They are way more of an obstruction than scooters, and can’t just be picked up and moved.

            I support greener mobility. I bike and walk, but I realize not everyone has the space to store a bike and that they are vulnerable to theft when parked during work etc. And not everyone can afford one.

            The vast majority of trips — even short trips — are by car in this city. That is extremely destructive. People need safer alternatives. Scooters reduce the harm. I prefer biking and walking myself, but banning harm reduction means more death and destruction, including air pollution, climate change, and death/injury directly from cars. And if further burdens low-income workers who make our city run, by requiring them to wait ridiculous amounts of time for buses (which are a bigger COVID risk) and/or take costly Lyft, etc.

    2. Karen, anytime anyone parks a car blocking the sidewalk, please call West Hollywood parking enforcement. They will cite them on the spot.

  11. They are laying all over the place in Hollywood and elsewhere, blocking walkers, seniors and disabled people. Some of these things fall into the curb lanes of the street as well. Who will be liable for injury and damages? It’s a total mess.

    1. Do you support banning cars, too? I’ve encountered far more of them blocking sidewalks (by parking across the sidewalk on driveways) than scooters. Cars are far more dangerous to walkers, seniors, and disabled people.

      In my experience, motorists almost never stop before crosswalks in WeHo. Numerous people get hit by them every year. Some have died. I’ve seen a disabled man without time to cross at an intersection due to short light cycles while drivers mercilessly honked at him (I accompanied him to not be alone/ for safety in numbers.)

      Scooters are harm reduction. A jerk on a scooter (or who parks a scooter) is way less dangerous than a jerk in a car (or parking a car).

      1. You sound like an intelligent person Karen. Perhaps you could be advocating for more intelligent and responsible behavior in general. Too many in our city and country seems to believe that since this is a free country, one has no responsibility, that its their 1st amendment right to do and say as they please.

        It’s the fabric of society that has been knocked off its logical, ethical and responsible foundations and all the mindless gadgetry of the tech era has to a great extent exacerbated the issues. Folks seem to be operating on anonymous auto pilot. To me it is horrifying.

      2. The question I have for you is where does it all stop? There are 12 different types of these vehicles dumped everywhere whether the city makes a deal with them or not. What’s to stop more completion such as motorized skateboards, hoverboards or anything else from just taking over. I never see anyone obeying street signs and traffic signals, bikes included for that matter.

        1. Um, it’d end wherever the city decided it ends. This would be a ruled/ permitted process. It would only apply to those that abide by the city’s (too-onerous) RFPs, which does not allow hoover boards, etc. This would be a pilot programs for 18-month licenses, with lots of restrictions related to where they can be parked, what they must do, etc.

          Also, motorists speed routinely, do rolling stops routinely, don’t yield at crosswalks and intersections (going when it’s not their turn) all the time, and fail to yield the right of way. And the kill 32k people/year and maim 2 million + in the U.S. alone.

          Scooters/Wheels are harm reduction. For the planet, for the air, and for those who’d be maimed and killed by drivers.

          My uncle is dead due to a motorist hitting him while he was biking. In the middle of the day. I have many friends and family who were seriously injured by motorists hitting them — including a good friend who was in a wheelchair for months after being hit by a drunk drivers while she was walking. She still has significant pain.

          Do you really think it’s safer to others for those who might be less than responsible to operate a 2-ton vehicle that can go 120 mph instead of on a scooter — with lots of licensing restrictions in WeHo — that weighs maybe 10 lbs and tops out at no more than 20 mph?

      3. What about the jerks who are on their cell phones while driving a vehicle or a scooter or, as I’ve seen, on their bikes or skateboards ? They are NOT paying attention to pedestrians.

  12. Didn’t the city learn after the debacle of the Bike Share program and the BAN by City Council of the scooters? Now they want electric bikes left all over the city? Who is being paid to foist this on the city? Just say NO.

    1. The scooters/ wheels proposals wouldn’t cost the city any money. They’d be privately operated and pay fees.

      Two of the three main reasons WeHoPedals failed should not be repeated. Its issues were:

      1) WeHoPedals didn’t interconnect with a system in L.A. It only worked for intra-WeHo trips (and later, Beverly Hills, UCLA, and Santa Monica). i.e. you couldn’t even bike to Hollywood/Highland and expect a bike for a return trip.

      2) Bikes weren’t in neighborhoods/ you had to walk several blocks to get one. This made it impractical for first-mile, last mile.

      3) Our city carves out the vast majority of street space for cars and private car storage (despite the supposed commitment to addressing climate change), and lacks a protected bike network — ie on that cars don’t pass through to park, etc. That is still an issue, but we see in L.A. that many people use scooters anyway.

  13. It would be helpful if our City Council would focus on serious, immediate events rather than squabbles about scooters.

    It also seems evident that many folks have greatly benefitted from WALKING, remember that? during the pandemic as a free and valid form of exercise while their gyms were closed.

    Can we have a logic driven City Agenda driven by immediacy and foresight please?

    Thanking the City Council in advance.

    1. Scooters are transportation. Not all places people go are in easy walking distance. There are still many hundreds of essential workers working in WeHo. People want efficiency in transportation. Scooters are way more efficient than walking, and way less destructive than cars.

  14. What a great time to institute a “sharing” program. We can’t even get people to comply with mask wearing or distancing. Now we will have scooters zooming by, and better yet, sharing germs on handle bars. I can’t think of a better time. Making the streets (which of course will morph into sidewalks) even more difficult to navigate will certainly be a major help to curbing the virus. SMFH.

    1. It’s harm reduction. What’s safer today — public transit or a scooter or Lyft? Not everyone has their own car.

      And cars are barreling us closer to a climate crisis. Yes, even electric cars. (Their manufacture involves vast amounts of GHG emissions and we are not 100% renewable, so more demand means more fossil fuels consumed.) Also, air pollution from tires and brakes is massive, and brakes contribute to micro plastics, even in the arctic.

      Scooters aren’t perfect, but they’re way less harmful than cars. A jerk in a car is way more of a danger than a jerk on a scooter. And the city would prohibit scooting on the sidewalk and may even have a way to de-activate their ability to use them. (That said, the bigger issue is that we lack safe bike/scooter lanes that are protected from cars.)

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