City’s Public Safety Committee endorses mayor’s scooter regulations
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 10/25/18 - 08:00 AM | 1797 views | 0 0 comments | 47 47 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Scooter riders head south on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard. / Photo by Thomas Melville
Scooter riders head south on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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The City Council’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee on Oct. 24 unanimously endorsed Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s proposed new regulations for electric scooters.

The PS&LN Committee directed staff to return early next year with more fleshed-out details on new regulations and fees. City staff testified fees charged for scooter use in other cities ranges between $30 and $365 per-device per-year.

The mayor’s regulatory framework covers five primary areas: limiting maximum speed in designated zones, rider education, data sharing, operating fees and legal indemnification for the City. 

The committee vote followed more than an hour of public testimony. Residents testified the new travel mode was providing jobs, helping people get where they needed to go for short distances and was helping the City reach its ambitious climate-action goals.

In 2016, the City Council passed a Climate Action Plan calling for eliminating half of all greenhouse gas emissions and electricity used in the City to be from renewable sources by 2035.

But the other side was equally vociferous in pointing out electric scooter use is presently lawless, dangerous and is crowding pedestrians, including the disabled, bicyclists and others off public thoroughfares and needs regulation.

Beach-area residents and transportation stakeholders testified about the thrills — and ills — of scooter ridership.

“The mayor’s framework addresses some, but not all, of the issues,” said Marcie Becket of Pacific Beach. “We have underage riding, double riding, adults with kids double riding. They’re just littering and overwhelming our communities. We need cost-recovery fees to pay for police enforcement. Laws mean nothing without enforcement.”

Andy Hanshaw of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition said, “Scooters are increasing mobility options.”

Discussing scooters being prohibited on sidewalks, Hanshaw noted, “People ride on sidewalks because that’s where they feel safest.”

Maya Rosas, of Circulate San Diego, a regional grassroots group promoting mobility choices, cautioned against scooter overregulation. “Instead of capping the number of scooters, we should be installing safe lanes for them to ride in,” she said.

Noting public safety is the top responsibility for local government, committee vice chair Barbara Bay said: “We need to make some changes for the companies using the infrastructure that all of us pay for. We need operational standards. Data sharing is essential. It’s important for us to know this as we move forward.”

Citing scooter companies for their innovative business model, Bry cautioned, “We need to be mindful of public safety for pedestrians, motorists and the people on the scooters themselves.”

Committee member Lorie Zapf of District 2 outlined her concerns. 

“We should mandate that scooters have a large sticker saying, single-riders only and spelling out rules and fines for violations,” she said, adding, “We don’t want people shocked to find out the rules they thought were suggestions carry a $250 fine.”

Pointing out she’s witnessed wanton disregard for all rules of the road by electric scooters on boardwalks, Zapf pushed for tighter control of scooters in highly trafficked areas throughout the city.

“When this comes back, I would like to see consideration of a ban of scooters on boardwalks and in Balboa Park,” Zapf said.

A proposed electric scooter ban on beach boardwalks earlier this year failed to carry a majority vote of the City Council.

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