On the one hand, a City subcommittee chaired by First District Councilmember Barbara Bry is considering toughening dockless bike rules, including instituting fees for enforcement.
Conversely, heavily amended legislation, AB 2989, is ongoing at the state level to loosen some restrictions on motorized scooters. The state bill would allow motorized scooters on highways with speed limits up to 35 mph (rather than the current 25 mph), as well as on highways with higher speed limits if the scooter is operated within a class II or class IV bikeway. It also removes the helmet requirement for riders 18 years old or older.
Meanwhile, a San Diego Police Department crackdown enforcing motorized scooter safety, especially in Pacific Beach and Mission beaches, will continue this summer - targeting violators.
Bry chairs a Council working group charged with finding solutions to emerging dockless problems. Since their February rollout, mortised scooters and other vehicles have proliferated throughout town to the point where some consider them not only a nuisance but a public safety hazard.
“I walked from my downtown office almost to the train tracks the other day and saw 10 people riding scooters without helmets, and two cases of moms and daughters on the same scooter riding on sidewalks (all violations),” said Bry.
Bry said existing dockless companies — Bird, LimeBike, MoBike and Ofo — were joined by Uber and Lyft, both entering the dockless market, to discuss improving safety with the city.
“We’re (city) going to be moving ahead with a more vigorous public service educational campaign where we can focus on safety for both riders and pedestrians: It’s a two-way issue,” Bry said. “We can do that right now. We don’t need apps of any kind.”
Bry said Bird has also offered to give the city money from collected funds to be used for information gathering.
“We need more data because we’re going to be investing in infrastructure, and we need information on how and where dockless bikes are used so we can put them in protected lanes and in bike corrals so people will know where to leave them,” the councilwoman said.
“We are going to do an end-of-summer media event on the number of tickets that have been issued (to dockless),” reported Lorie Zapf’s District 2 Council office adding, “It’s been crazy for the SDPD writing tickets — so many violations.”
The city’s decision not to more severely restrict dockless vehicles on ocean boardwalks has been greeted with mixed reviews by Pacific Beach residents.
“The scooters should be limited to 8 mph on the boardwalk using GPS fencing technology,” said Henish Pulickal, chair of Pacific Beach Planning Group. “Additionally, riding one of these around town really shows how poor our bike or scooter infrastructure is. No safe places to ride them, roads are in really poor condition and not enough good places to park them.”
“My biggest concern is young children riding E-scooters, risking injury or death,” said PB activist Marcie Beckett. ... I believe parents are under the wrong impression that these E-Scooters are safe for kids.”
Beckett said, during a recent 15-minute period on the Baywalk at Sail Bay on July 25, she witnessed seven “very dangerous” E-scooter riding situations with young kids and adults.
“None of the riders was wearing a helmet as required,” she said.
“Some were double riding, which is illegal. And kids were riding, which is illegal. … It is only a matter of time until someone dies. It is only a matter of time until someone sues the City for millions.”
Eco-district proponent Kristen Victor had a somewhat different take on dockless.
“I propose a three-tiered solution to the dockless bike and scooter revolution supporting safety on our shared pathways in the City of San Diego,” said Victor. “Collaborate with the dockless companies to utilize existing technology to reduce speed to 8 mph on the shared pathways. Engage CONVIS and the Hotel/Motel Association to create an educational strategy for visitors. Collaborate with the City of San Diego on Wayfinding and Safety Strategy.”