Update: Scooters: Are They A Convenience Or A Nuisance?

April 26, 2018

Update: And the fight continues …

It started off as something innocent enough: electric stand-up scooters that anyone in San Francisco could use to ride wherever they needed to go. But the innocence, it seems, stopped there. As these scooters grew in popularity among those needing to get from place to place quickly, they also became quite the nuisance to others. Why? Riders were literally dropping them off wherever they stopped—we’re talking about in the middle of the sidewalk here! As complaints grew, the city of San Francisco took action. Now, the three scooter companies (Bird, Lime, and Spin) have been issued a “cease and desist” letter from San Francisco’s city attorney office. What does that mean exactly? It basically means that the city of San Francisco has asked the companies to stop doing business until they can find a solution for the unlawful use of their scooters. In addition, the City Public Works crew has collected scooters that have been left on sidewalks.

While the city attorney’s office is trying to figure out a solution to keep the people of San Francisco happy and safe in the short term, the Land Use and Transportation Committee has been working on finding more long-term solutions for regulating the scooters. The three companies have until April 30th to figure out a solution; otherwise, they’ll be fined $125 per scooter. Ouch!

Picture this: You’re walking home from school, but you’re so exhausted that your legs are telling you that you just can’t walk those last few blocks home. What’s this? You see a random scooter parked right in front of you. Hey, you think to yourself, this isn’t one of those new electric scooters that anyone can just jump on and start up via their mobile phone, is it? You take another look, and lo and behold, it is one of those scooters! Yippee! You hop on, start it with your phone, and off you go, getting home in record time and without any complaints from your tired old legs.

Now picture this: You’re walking home from school and all of a sudden you trip over something. Hey, you think to yourself, what’s this scooter doing in the middle of the sidewalk?

Now hold both thoughts …

If you live in San Francisco or Santa Monica, California, or in Austin, Texas, you might have noticed a sudden surge in electric scooters scattered about the city in the last few weeks. Well, you’re not seeing things! Electric scooters owned by three different companies have been spotted in these cities that allow anyone to hop on short-distance rides with a simple tap of their mobile app. Need a short ride from the bus station to your house or a quick ride down a few blocks to a friend’s place? Hop on a scooter!

Those who need a quick and short ride love this new and easy-to-use solution for getting where they need to go quickly. Others find these scooters a nuisance.

You see, the idea behind these scooters is that you can just pick one up from anywhere, get on, and go. But that’s exactly the problem—you can literally pick one up anywhere … and leave one anywhere for that matter. People aren’t happy seeing scooters parked everywhere around the city, including right in the middle of the sidewalk.

Since these scooters began showing up in San Francisco, officials have received a lot of complaints. So, what’s the city doing about these scooters? San Francisco is working on making companies secure permits for their scooters. They’re also working on general policiesfor scooter storage and parking. The cities of Santa Monica and Austin already have some policies in place—scooters left on sidewalks can be impounded.

Although the city of San Francisco can’t do anything about the scooters immediately, there are general state laws that users must follow: riders must be eighteen, they must wear a helmet, they must have a license, and they can’t ride on sidewalks. One of the electric scooter companies has been working with the city of Santa Monica to gather up the scooters at the end of the day and re-park them in specific areas.

Have you seen these scooters around your city? What would you do to make both those who love and hate these scooters happy?