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 Then Jump rescinded its proposal after it was acquired by Lime and stopped offering electric pedal assist bikes in the L.A. market.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 atwww.weho.org/wehotvand on YouTube atwww.youtube.com/wehotv. 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 herewww.weho.org/councilagendas. 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 yquarker@weho.org 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.

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Pichar Ruez
2 months ago

Electric scooters are need of modern era and they are safe, secure vehicles for ride from home to office or anywhere else. There are some rides that not safe enough to ride they should be ban by the authorities rather they were in west hollywood or anywhere in USA. But my right now my concern is with electric scooters they are perfect and secure rides to drive. If you have any question, i am here to answer all of your question with best possible answers.

Kerry Washington
2 months ago

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.

Last edited 2 months ago by Kerry Washington
michael
michael
3 months ago

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.

J T Anderson
J T Anderson
3 months ago

No scooters. They are dangerous to pedestrians and clutter the environment.

michael
michael
3 months ago
Reply to  J T Anderson

totally agree

CourtneyCyclez
CourtneyCyclez
3 months ago
Reply to  J T Anderson

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.

Rob Bergstein
Rob Bergstein
3 months ago

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… Read more »

Karen O'Keefe
Karen O'Keefe
3 months ago
Reply to  Rob Bergstein

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… Read more »

Vigilant
Vigilant
3 months ago
Reply to  Karen O'Keefe

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… Read more »

Karen O'Keefe
Karen O'Keefe
3 months ago
Reply to  Rob Bergstein

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… Read more »

Rob Bergstein
Rob Bergstein
3 months ago
Reply to  Karen O'Keefe

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… Read more »

John Ryan
John Ryan
3 months ago

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… Read more »

John Ryan
John Ryan
3 months ago

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

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/aug/02/electric-scooter-eco-friendly-greenhouse-gases

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.

NO SCOOTERS PLEASE

Karen O'Keefe
Karen O'Keefe
3 months ago
Reply to  John Ryan

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.

Karen O'Keefe
Karen O'Keefe
3 months ago
Reply to  John Ryan

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.

https://theconversation.com/climate-explained-the-environmental-footprint-of-electric-versus-fossil-cars-124762

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/14/car-tyres-are-major-source-of-ocean-microplastics-study

Gwen
Gwen
3 months ago

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.

CourtneyCyclez
CourtneyCyclez
3 months ago
Reply to  Gwen

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.

Johnjx on Hancock
Johnjx on Hancock
3 months ago

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?

Karen O'Keefe
Karen O'Keefe
3 months ago

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.

TomSmart
TomSmart
3 months ago
Reply to  Karen O'Keefe

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.

Gabe
Gabe
3 months ago
Reply to  Karen O'Keefe

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…

Karen O'Keefe
Karen O'Keefe
3 months ago
Reply to  Gabe

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… Read more »

John Ryan
John Ryan
3 months ago
Reply to  Karen O'Keefe

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.

John Ryan
John Ryan
3 months ago

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.

John Daniel Harrington Tyrell
John Daniel Harrington Tyrell
3 months ago

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.

Gabe
Gabe
3 months ago

100% agree!

Karen O'Keefe
Karen O'Keefe
3 months ago

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… Read more »

Vigilant
Vigilant
3 months ago
Reply to  Karen O'Keefe

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… Read more »

Karen O'Keefe
Karen O'Keefe
3 months ago
Reply to  Vigilant

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… Read more »

Vigilant
Vigilant
3 months ago
Reply to  Karen O'Keefe

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… Read more »

Karen O'Keefe
Karen O'Keefe
3 months ago
Reply to  Vigilant

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.… Read more »

Danielle Harris
Danielle Harris
3 months ago
Reply to  Karen O'Keefe

Thank you for sticking to the talking points throughout, Karen.

Rob Bergstein
Rob Bergstein
3 months ago
Reply to  Karen O'Keefe

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