If you have been in San Francisco California in the last few weeks you have probably seen them-electric scooters are everywhere. And as discussed by a reporter for the New York Times section California Today in San Francisco “Shared electric scooters are available to reserve and rent by app for as little as $1 a ride. They are billed as a way to “help make transportation better and more environmentally friendly” by one start-up, Bird, which has netted $100 million in venture capital funding.”
The scooters run by three companies appeared after Saint Patrick’s Day and are leased by unlocking them with a mobile cellphone application. It costs one dollar to unlock the scooter, and fifteen cents a minute to use it. Reporter Mike Issac found that the dockless nature of the scooter means they are parked just about anywhere. San Francisco was blanketed with scooters in advance of any legislation existing under the city’s transportation code. The city attorney has acted quickly to bring in regulation, but not for the reasons you would think-the City is worried about the stand-up ride share scooters being a “trip hazard”. “The scooters, capable of speeds up to 15 mph, appeared suddenly, and since their arrival, they’ve drawn praise from early users and a flood of complaints from people who don’t like one of the slender two-wheelers’ biggest features: They can be parked anywhere.”
The scooters have achieved quick action from the City as sidewalks have become “dumping grounds” and the City is ” “examining all of our legal options to protect the more than 1 million people who use San Francisco’s sidewalks every day.” They are piled up when parked, often blocking sidewalks and bikelanes, and are hazards for people with disabilities. Places like Austin Texas and Santa Monica impound scooters left on sidewalks. San Francisco wants to regulate the scooter sharecompanies and have them obtain operating permits.
Under State law you cannot ride a scooter on a sidewalk, you must wear a helmet and you must be over 18, rules that the local San Francisco police can enforce. But locations for parking the scooter at the start and end of each trip needs to be worked out. As one local stated about the use of sidewalks “We don’t want people using motorized devices on the one safe place to walk.”